Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that Moscow was ready to hold talks with Ukraine in the early months of the war but the US and other Western countries advised Kyiv against it.
Avarov’s comments on the trip to South Africa were similar to comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year that his country was ready for talks but Ukraine’s Western allies blocked them from happening.
The US and other Western countries have said Russia is not serious about talks to end the war, as next month is set to mark its one-year anniversary.
Lavrov said, “It is well known that we supported the proposal of the Ukrainian side to hold early talks in the special military operation, and by the end of March, both delegations agreed in principle to resolve this conflict.”
“It is well known and openly published that our American, British and some European allies told Ukraine that it was too early to make a deal, and that the arrangement that was almost agreed upon could never be reached by Kyiv. Not revisited by the government.”
Russia has repeatedly rejected Ukrainian and Western demands that it withdraw completely from Ukraine as a condition for any talks.
US President Joe Biden has indicated he would be open to talks with Putin if the Russian leader showed he seriously wanted to end the invasion.
Lavrov is in Pretoria for talks with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor as Russia pushes to strengthen ties with Africa’s most developed country and a historic ally amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
South Africa was seen as the most important of many African countries for taking a neutral stand on the war and refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion – much to the dismay of the US and other Western partners, who saw South Africa as a threat to their plans to build ties. considered important for in Africa.
Lavrov met Pandor in the South African capital and is expected to visit other African countries on his trip. It is Lavrov’s second trip to Africa within six months as Russia seeks to support the rally.
The war in Ukraine and its impact on Africa’s 1.3 billion people, including rising global oil and food prices, are expected to take center stage during Lavrov’s talks with Pandora.
“We are acutely aware that conflict, wherever it exists in the world, has a negative impact on all of us, and as a developing world it has an impact on us particularly on the African continent,” Pandour said.
“That is why as South Africans we make it clear that we will always be ready to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the continent and around the world.”
South Africa maintained strong ties to Russia following the former Soviet Union’s support of the African National Congress, the country’s current ruling party, when it was a liberation movement to end the apartheid system of repression against South Africa’s black majority. .
The relationship is largely what prompted South Africa to abstain from a UN vote last year condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Lavrov’s visit comes days after the South African armed forces announced they would hold joint exercises with the Russian and Chinese navies off its east coast next month, despite South Africa’s expressed neutrality on Ukraine.
Lavrov’s visit to Africa last year was followed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to South Africa, which was seen as a US bid to counter the expansion of Russian influence in the strategically important continent.
This time, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited Senegal and Zambia ahead of her official visit to South Africa starting on Wednesday.