Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist


Zuma backs Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, says Putin’s actions are ‘justifiable’

Zuma says Putin is dealing with what he considers as Western threats to Russia’s national security.


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed the hypocrisy of the West, including their “bullying tendencies and their insatiable appetite” to dominate others, while clandestinely furthering their own agendas and interests.

That’s the view of former president Jacob Zuma, who has added his voice to the ongoing debate on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Zuma backs Russia’s invasion

In a lengthy statement issued by his foundation on Sunday, Zuma said it would remiss of him not to share his thoughts on the raging war that he believes is “justifiable”.

He said he backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because Putin was fighting the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (Nato) expansion in Ukraine, and other eastern European countries.

“Our patron says that the current impasse between Russia and Ukraine must be seen within the context of, in the main, dynamics in the balance of forces on a global scale,” the Jacob Zuma Foundation said.

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“This impasse has by default also exposed the hypocrisy of what has become the conventional wisdom which always favours the Western forces including their bullying tendencies and their insatiable appetite to dominate others while clandestinely furthering their own agendas and interests.”

Military threat to Russia

Zuma, who received military training in the then Soviet Union during the struggle against apartheid, said Putin had been very patient with Western forces about Nato’s expansion into eastern Europe, which he said posed a military threat to Russia.

The former president said countries like Russia and China – thanks to their “strong political and economic independence” – had managed to defend their territories from “Western bullies” and should be applauded for this.

“Surely in terms of efforts to achieving world peace, the sovereignty of Ukraine and all the democratic dictates cannot mean allowing Nato to establish a presence on its real estate; thus, establishing an untenable security risk to Russia.

“Ukraine and Russia are separated only by a line on the map and not by the Baltic Sea – why is this complicated to understand?

“If forces, globally known to be hostile to the United States of America, were known to be establishing a presence of any sort in any of the adjacent territories within the USA; the USA would certainly act in a manner that it believes would neutralise such a perceived threat.”

‘Playing holier than thou’

Zuma said Putin was dealing with what he considered as Western threats to Russia’s national security, and the West would have done the same thing if it were in his position.

“His actions, whereas justifiable, are still a far cry [from] what other big powers have done when faced with such a situation.

“Some Western powers, who are today playing holier than thou, have invaded a number of small countries in the world e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya to name but a few. These glaring examples of interference have left those countries in ruins.

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“The Western countries and their acolytes’ support of Ukraine (under the guise of defending the sovereignty and democracy in Ukraine) is a selfish act to further their own interests at the expense of innocent lives and property in Ukraine.”

Zuma also blamed “Western forces” for his recall from office in February 2018 by the ANC’s national executive committee.

He claimed he couldn’t finish his second term because the West used their “forces that they are in control of within some structures of our government and some that they control in the ruling party” to get rid of him.

At least 364 civilians have been killed and more than 700 injured in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on 24 February.

The United Nations (UN) said 1.5 million people had fled Ukraine, adding that the war is becoming the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

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