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Moscow Marks Three Decades of Friendship with Pretoria Putting South Africa in an Awkward Position

Russia has reminded South Africa about its role in the fight against apartheid, support of uMkhonto we Sizwe, and BRICS partnership in celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Russia’s foreign ministry, on Monday, issued a statement – in Russian – chronicling the “time-tested friendly relations” with South Africa. The statement made no mention of the current crisis in Ukraine or of South Africa’s unclear position on the Russian invasion. International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor recently called on Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine. President Cyril Ramaphosa, supported by the ANC, has called for mediation – not a withdrawal – creating tension among the political leadership and uncertainty surrounding South Africa’s official stance on the conflict. Within the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian foreign ministry added that it “was the first to come to the aid of the South African people” following the discovery of the Omicron variant in late November 2021.