Ramaphosa hopes to speak to Ukraine's Zelensky on Russia conflict

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Filip Singer - Pool/Getty Images
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa cannot afford the economic pressures that a protracted conflict between Russia and Ukraine will cause. 
  • Ramaphosa said he hoped to speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as part of a mediated solution.
  • From his conversation with President Vladimir Putin, Ramaphosa "got a sense of an agreement in the making soon". 

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he hopes to speak to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to ensure a swift, negotiated end to the war between Russia and Ukraine, stressing that the South African economy could not afford the economic pressures that a protracted conflict would cause.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an event celebrating the thirtieth-anniversary celebrations of portfolio manager NinetyOne in Cape Town on Wednesday evening. This also comes the week after Ramaphosa held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the conflict.

"We have been picking up positive news and when I was speaking to President Vladimir Putin I got a sense of an agreement in the making soon because he, too, would like to bring the conflict to an end soon - as I am sure the president of Ukraine would like it to end, as we hope to speak to him as well," Ramaphosa said.

It has been three weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, and aside from deaths and a refugee crisis, the war triggered skyrocketing prices in oil, wheat and other commodities. The Department of Public Enterprises warned of fuel rationing if the war continued for much longer.

READ | The future is American for Ninety One, and maybe Chinese too

During his speech, Ramaphosa made no bones about the impact of the conflict on the South African economy and said when speaking to Putin a week ago, he got a sense that the Russian leader was eager to see a conclusion to the conflict.

"We are already seeing the impact of the conflict on commodity prices, and should it continue, and I am hoping that it does come to an end, having spoken to President Putin, I am also going to speak to other leaders about how this conflict will be mediated and brought to an end," said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said on Wednesday night that the door was open for discussions between himself and Zelensky and that the world leaders needed to contribute to bringing an end to the conflict as soon as possible.

South Africa's position in the conflict has been criticised, especially in the context of its role as a BRICS partner to Russia along with Brazil, China and India.

Brazil was the only BRICS nation that voted "yes" in a United Nations General Assembly vote on whether the UN should demand that Putin leave Ukraine earlier this month. The remaining BRICS nations, including South Africa, abstained.

The government had previously urged South Africans "not to take sides" in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, despite global condemnation of Putin's actions.

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He said the international community, including the United Nations (UN), should contribute to a mediated and negotiated end to the conflict as soon as possible. "The international community must work with the governments of Russia and Ukraine to bring these hostilities to an end," he said.

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