Foreign minister says Russia open to negotiations over war, unlike Ukrainian president | News24

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) is being received by South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor (R) within his official visits in Pretoria, South Africa on 23 January 2023.

Ihsaan Haffejee/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

  • South Africa has affirmed its neutral position on the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
  • Russia says it is open to negotiations but that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has blocked all negotiations.
  • Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, is in Pretoria, meeting with International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, says his country has always been open to negotiations with Ukraine but that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has prohibited any form of negotiation.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 – almost a year ago.

Lavrov was speaking in Pretoria on Monday where he held bilateral political consultations with International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor.

In his opening remarks, he said it was “well known” that Russia supported Ukraine’s proposal for negotiations early in the war.

In March, he said, two delegations “agreed on the principles to settle the conflict”. 

“It is well known; it was published openly … The arrangement which was almost agreed upon was never revisited by Ukraine,” he said.

He added:

And, as I mentioned to you, Madam Minister, that in September, President Zelensky signed a decree prohibiting all Ukrainian officials to negotiate on anything with the Russian Federation. So, I believe it is absolutely obvious that is the origin of the lack of negotiations.

However, it is not factually correct that Zelensky is refusing to negotiate, but Russia has so far rejected his preconditions for negotiations, including withdrawing all troops from Ukraine, returning occupied land and compensating for war crimes. In November, Zelensky urged the international community to “force Russia to real peace talks,” the LA Times reported at the time. 

South Africa has faced international and local criticism for its neutral stance on the war in Ukraine after it, along with 16 other African countries, abstained from a UN vote condemning Russia’s invasion.

In her welcoming speech on Monday, Pandor used the opportunity to affirm South Africa’s position for peaceful resolutions through dialogue and diplomacy.

“…We are fully alert that the conflict, wherever it exists in the world, impacts negatively on all of us …, particularly as the African continent. This is why as South Africa, we consistently articulate that we will always stand ready to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the continent and throughout the globe,” she said.

“It is important, therefore, that I mention on behalf of South Africa our sincere wish that the conflict currently between Russia and Ukraine will soon be brought to a peaceful end through diplomacy and negotiation, as we believe this is the desire of all of us in the globe.”




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