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Ramaphosa says South Africa has been asked to mediate between Russia and Ukraine

European Union - African Union Summit in Brussels
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa makes a statement on vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a European Union-African Union summit February 18, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

March 10, 2022

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday South Africa had been asked to mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and he told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call that the matter should be settled through negotiations.

Ramaphosa did not say who made the request, nor did he give further details on how he planned to work with the two sides.

“Due to our relationship with the Russian Federation and as a member of the BRICS countries, South Africa has been asked to play a mediating role,” Ramaphosa said, referring to the emerging group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

There were no immediate announcements from Moscow or Kyiv confirming South Africa’s role.

Talks between Ukraine and Russia’s foreign ministers on Thursday failed to ease the tension as hundreds of thousands of civilians remained trapped in Ukrainian cities to protect themselves from Russian airstrikes and shelling.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has strong historical ties to the former Soviet Union, which trained and supported anti-apartheid activists during the Cold War era.

Since its relatively peaceful transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa has also tended to excel diplomatically.

Ramaphosa said in a statement on his LinkedIn page that he spoke to Putin on the phone.

“I have set out our position on the conflict … as well as our belief that the conflict should be resolved through mediation and negotiation between the parties and – if necessary – with the help of agencies that can help,” Ramaphosa said.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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Bobby Allyn

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