South African government ‘concerned’ as Russian forces invade Ukraine

The South African government has expressed concern over the escalating conflict in Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russian troops as part of a “special military operation” authorised by that country’s president, Vladimir Putin, early on Thursday.

Russian troops entered eastern Ukraine while its air force hit military targets, including airfields and other installations, in the capital Kiev and elsewhere as part of the operation, which Putin says is aimed at preventing the “genocide” of ethnic Russians living in the east of the country.

A spokesperson for South Africa’s department of international relations and cooperation said the government was “concerned” about the “ongoing tensions” that could have regional and global ramifications.

The United Nations secretary general, Antonio Gutierrez, described the invasion as “the saddest moment” of his career with the world body, and called for an immediate de-escalation.

South Africa urged all parties to “devote increased efforts to diplomacy” and to find a solution that would help quell tensions.

“All parties have much to gain from a negotiated outcome and much to lose from an unnecessary and violent conflict,” said international relations and cooperation minister Naledi Pandor.

She said the UN Security Council, which is this month chaired by Russia, should play a “central role” in the search for peace.

“The UNSC is the body given the mandate for maintenance of international peace and security and it must exercise its role fully. As South Africa, we believe all the issues of concern to any of the parties must be addressed in inclusive talks led by the United Nations General Assembly,” Pandor said.

“The world does not need another war as that will result in death and destruction, hence our call for enhanced diplomacy.”

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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