Luthuli House finally lends Ukrainian ambassador to SA an ear

31 May 2023 - 17:41
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
Ukrainian ambassador to SA Liubov Abravitova met with the ANC at Luthuli House last Thursday.
Ukrainian ambassador to SA Liubov Abravitova met with the ANC at Luthuli House last Thursday.
Image: Supplied.

When Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa Liubov Abravitova met the ruling party at Luthuli House, South Africa’s non-aligned position in the Russia Ukraine war, African leaders' peace mission and ending the war topped the agenda.  

Abravitova met — for the first time since the war in Ukraine broke out — an ANC delegation led by the party’s secretary-general Fikile Mbalula at Luthuli House last Thursday.  

“We discussed the role of Ukraine in the struggle of South Africa during apartheid and acknowledge that a lot of ANC veterans were trained and supported by Ukraine during the struggle.”  

On the Russian invasion, Abravitova said she expressed to the ANC that the aggression unleashed by Russian president Vladimir Putin on February 24 2022 “had historical and economic grounds”.  

“We both agreed that South Africa and Ukraine are respecting [the] UN Charter of territorial and sovereignty of all countries of the world. We discussed South Africa’s non-aligned position and my message was that you cannot be non-aligned to the UN Charter and international law.  

“The fact of the aggression is clear and the violation from Russia’s side is obvious, and that does not need any proving or qualification.”

Abravitova described the almost three hour-long meeting as “positive, constructive and long”. 

In turn, the ANC asked her what “conditions would Ukraine agree to” to start peace negotiations. 

“ANC representatives were asking whether abandoning of Ukraine's desire to join NATO could be the case that we could step back for Ukraine, and I explained very clearly and rightfully that it is in the constitution of Ukraine. So for another country to demand this from Ukraine means intervening into our internal policies.    

“Secondly, if the leadership were to decide or propose it to the people of Ukraine in order to change our constitution, we might need to go for a referendum. If we went for a referendum in 2014, less than 50% of our population would have supported the idea. If we went for the referendum on February 24 last year, more than 50% of the population would have supported it. If we go for a referendum today, more than 80% would support our membership in Nato.” 

Abravitova said her reasoning to the ANC was clear and she attempted to make the ruling party understand that the solution was complicated. 

“Russia has already gone that far and insisted on the points of justification and today it is a small group of them who are now going back to acknowledge that this invasion was not rightful and that the reasons were artificial. 

“We also heard the message that is in the final statement of the ANC’s document after its conference in December about the proxy war and I also explained to them very carefully and clearly that Ukraine is fighting on its own land with invaders, with our army, own people and soldiers. 

“We are demanding that the rest of the world provide us with weapons in order to fight back and you see that the achievements are coming with time. In the beginning of the invasion, we did not have much military support from foreign countries, so how do you perceive this as a proxy war?”

Abravitova said the controversial Lady R vessel matter, which is a subject of a judicial inquiry, and the recent diplomatic fallout between the US and South Africa did not feature during the discussions.  

“Obviously the president announced the special investigation and it was established that everyone just has to wait for the outcome.”  

She asked the party to facilitate a meeting between her and defence minister Thandi Modise.  

On President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that African leaders from six countries will be heading on a peace mission to Kyiv and Moscow, Abravitova said this was a positive step in the right direction. 

“We did discuss it and I said that we as Ukraine welcome the initiative where President Cyril Ramaphosa will get an opportunity to come to the Ukraine and to see with his own eyes the devastation on the ground and the consequences that are the reasons why all African countries are suffering from food insecurity and high prices, is because of the Russian aggression.”  

During the meeting she reiterated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's peace formula, which was on the negotiation table and presented in November last year.  

“I reiterated that this is the only formula that we are ready to discuss as a peace solution for the Ukraine, and every country can choose either to choose our 10 points formula or to choose one of them. If you look at the Chinese formula, you will see that several points are the same as several that are in the Ukrainian formula. 

“So we are pretty much sure and believe that South Africa and other countries or African leaders who are visiting Ukraine will find the opportunity to again discuss President Zelensky’s formula and also be able to decide whether they are going to be able to join any point.”  

She invited the ANC to visit Ukraine to see for themselves the situation on the ground because “propaganda and misinformation” is huge. 

“If one wants to really see the truth, he has to do his or her own investigation and homework.” 


Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.