Faizel Patel
Senior Digital Journalist
3 minute read
25 Mar 2022
11:08 am

Ukrainian UN ambassador lambasts SA’s neutral stance on Russia’s war

Faizel Patel

SA for the first time called the invasion a war after Ramaphosa blamed Nato for the conflict.

UN General Assembly. Photo: NYT

Kyiv ambassador to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Sergiy Kyslytsya, has lambasted South Africa and its neutral stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine which has claimed hundreds of lives and forced at least million to flee the country while millions more have been displaced from their homes.

South Africa introduced a resolution titled ‘Humanitarian situation emanating out of the conflict in Ukraine.

The resolution made no reference whatsoever to Russia or Vladimir Putin and their role in the invasion and war it started in February.

Sixty-seven states voted on Thursday night not to take action and voted on the South African government’s resolution.

Despite that, 50 countries gathered in the General Assembly Hall, did favour moving to a vote on the Russian-backed South African draft, and 36 abstained, but the resolution did not garner enough support to proceed to a full vote.

Ukraine’s ambassador the UN General Assembly described the failed resolution as ‘fresh paint on a mouldy rotten structure of the assembly.’

“It’s a fresh paint on the mouldy rotten structure of the assembly where the paint isn’t actually paint but the blood of Ukrainian children, women and defenders. Let’s spare the assembly from this shame, lets prove that the assembly is still a solid structure,” Kyslytsya said.

South Africa has been stubborn and refused to condemn Russia’s actions claiming it would not be helpful in efforts to bring Russia and Ukraine to the table for talks.

Ramaphosa has not engaged with Ukrainian president

While President Cyril Ramaphosa also seems to be favouring Russia by speaking to his counterpart Putin, ironically, he has yet to have any engagements or discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

South Africa also for the first time called the invasion a war after Ramaphosa blamed Nato for the conflict while Parliamentary Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said Russia was not the only country to blame.

Speaking before the vote, South African Ambassador Mathu Joyini explained that despite the success of the Ukraine-sponsored draft, the focus should be on making the humanitarian situation the immediate priority.

“It is for this reason that South Africa is of the view that right now we should be more concerned with ending the war and addressing the humanitarian plight of the people that are impacted by it.”

‘War has no winners’

“Let us be clear, war has no winners. The real heroes are those that work towards peace. Through the last few decades, the world has continued to experience debilitating conflicts. Many of these wars have contravened the provisions of the Charter and international law,” she said.

Joyini said members should not ignore the context that gave rise to this crisis and nor should they ignore any violations of the UN Charter and international law or divert the focus from what ought to be immediately done.

“Unfortunately, instead of placing the humanitarian crisis and our response at the centre of our deliberations, the political divisions in the Assembly suggest that perhaps, in the minds of some delegations, the humanitarian response is secondary to geopolitical objectives.”

Meanwhile, Zelensky said there is a “real” threat that Russia will use chemical weapons in Ukraine, accusing Moscow of having already used phosphorus bombs against civilians in the country.

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