LISTEN | Zuma weighs in on Russia and Ukraine conflict, says 'man of peace' Putin's response justified

07 March 2022 - 09:38
By Cebelihle Bhengu
Former president Jacob Zuma has weighed in on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. File image.
Image: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS Former president Jacob Zuma has weighed in on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. File image.

Former president Jacob Zuma has weighed in on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, saying President Vladimir Putin felt provoked and was justified in his response.

Listen to the statement: 

The former president's namesake foundation issued a statement, days after SA abstained from voting in favour of a UN resolution to reprimand Russia.

He said it would have been “remiss” of him not to share his opinion on the tensions as a senior member of the ANC who is committed to the liberation of South Africans. 

Zuma claimed Putin has, for years, been consistent in his stance against the eastern expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) into Ukraine, and therefore, rightly felt provoked by reported attempts to include Ukraine in the alliance.

“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 USA, were known to be establishing the presence of any sort in any of the adjacent territories, the USA would certainly act in a manner that it believes would neutralise such a perceived threat,” said Zuma.

The former president added that Putin's response was a far cry from what other countries have done when faced with a similar threat. 

Zuma claimed Russia and Ukraine could have solved their issues amicably had it not been for the intervention of “western powers”.

“I am certain that his excellency Vladimir Putin will reciprocate and will bring in all his power to make peace a reality, as I know him to be a man of peace who has worked hard to ensure peace and stability across the globe,” he said. 

Meanwhile, former public protector Thuli Madonsela has applauded global leaders for “setting a great example in their condemnation of Russia’s Ukraine invasion in violation of international law and its massacre and dislocation of civilians in violation of humanitarian law treaties.

“I am grateful that the Soviet Union supported our anti-apartheid struggle, and Russia’s generosity in this regard, but I choose not to support Russia’s Ukraine invasion, and the slaughter of civilians as that is an unconscionable international law violation. I stand with Ukraine,” said Madonsela.

Putin has received condemnation from around the world, with several countries imposing sanctions against Russia. 

Last week US President Joe Biden announced a ban on more than 50 Russian oligarchs, their families, and close associates.

This was followed by Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc announcing their decision to withdraw their services in Russia. 

Al Kelly, CEO of Visa said the company was compelled to take a strong stance against Russia for launching an attack on Ukraine, “unprovoked”.