South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has blamed NATO for the war in Ukraine and said he would resist calls to condemn Russia, in comments that cast doubt over whether he would be accepted by Ukraine or the West as a mediator.
Ramaphosa, who was speaking on Thursday in parliament, said: “The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less, instability in the region.”
But he added that South Africa “cannot condone the use of force and violation of international law” – an apparent reference to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Ramaphosa also revealed that Putin had assured him personally that negotiations were making progress. The South African leader said he had not yet talked with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but that he wanted to.
On Friday, Ramaphosa said South Africa had been asked to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He did not say who had asked him to intervene.
“There are those who are insisting that we should take a very adversarial stance against Russia,” Ramaphosa added. “The approach we are going to take [instead] is … insisting that there should be dialogue.”