NATO provoked Russia into invading Ukraine by expanding eastward despite warnings from amongst its own members and officials, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
South Africa was one of 35 countries that abstained from voting on the United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Belarus joined Russia in voting against the resolution. However, most other countries in the world voted for the resolution condemning the devastating invasion.
During a speech in parliament on Thursday, the South African leader whose country was in the receiving end of racism from the West for decades, asserted that the war in Ukraine could have been avoided.
“The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less, instability in the region,” Mr. Ramaphosa said.
The South African leader clarified that he did not want to take sides to undermine his country’s role as a possible mediator. He said he had been approached to mediate in the Ukraine-Russia war without specifying who approached him.
Ramaphosa clarified that South Africa was not in support of any invasion “cannot condone the use of force and violation of international law.”
“There are those who are insisting that we should take a very adversarial stance against Russia,” he said, adding that his approach would be to insist that “there should be dialogue.”
“Screaming and shouting is not going to bring an end to this conflict,” he added.
Ramphosa said South Africa was also neutral in a conflict between Northern Ireland and former Finish President Marti Ahtisaari.