Western commentators have described the war in Ukraine as a turning point in international relations that strengthened the post-Cold War international system. In the Global South, the war is equally historic, restoring foreign policy independence and inequality as geopolitical tensions rise between the West and Russia (and China).
The Russian occupation of Ukraine reveals more than the vision of the new Russian regime to reestablish the empire. He stated that most countries in the Global South – with market economies and democratic political systems and values such as those recognized by the West – prefer not to take part even in the context of the abuse of a country with ‘ freedom.
Many in the West were surprised by the lack of significant support from the Global South. For example, South Africa intervened between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initially calling on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine, but within a few days the occupation withdrew this position. This followed the refusal to boycott the United Nations General Assembly and calls on Ukraine and Russia to discuss.
South Africa’s response should be understood in terms of two factors: (1) its core principles and position abroad and (2) the continued importance of alliances with former “friends”.
Foreign policy principles and positions
South Africa prides itself on its independent and non-volunteer foreign policy that avoids involvement in major conflicts. Several statements from South African government officials have emphasized this importance. This may interest you : 4 “Mega-Moon” Trip Ideas From Travel Pros To Inspire The Most Epic Honeymoon Ever. In addition, the government does not consider the war as one between Russia and Ukraine, but as a civil war between Russia and NATO – a war that has its roots in the eastern expansion of NATO despite the security problems of Russia.
South Africa joined the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) shortly after its first democratic elections in 1994, and pressure from developing countries to support the West’s stance on Ukraine restored norms. NAM in South Africa and elsewhere.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of South Africa has argued for further cooperation with other members of the NAM that will contribute significantly to the formulation of proposals for the reform of the United Nations system, as well as providing new content. to the United Nations Security Council. South Africa, along with other members of the Global South, should refrain from “engaging in the politics of counter-terrorism advocated by powerful countries.” They should seek to “determine their independent, mutually exclusive views” and promote “peaceful conflict resolution through dialogue and negotiation” in maintaining independent foreign policy.
However, South Africa has faced a problem in that some of the government ministers’ statements have ignored its claims of mutual rejection, although the country’s foreign minister made it clear in April that “Our position is disagreement does not mean that we accept the Russian military intervention in the country. Ukraine, which violates international law” and that “South Africa has been against the violation of the right to independence and territorial boundaries of member states, according to the United Nations system.”
Peaceful conflict resolution has been a cornerstone of South Africa’s policy since 1994, as evidenced by its efforts to resolve several African conflicts (eg, DRC, Burundi, and South Sudan/Sudan). These conflicts have not been full-scale invasions by one country against another, as was the case with Russia in February 2022, but are often supported by armed conflicts. South Africa’s position on Ukraine has been that dialogue is essential to ending the conflict. While logical and principled on one level, pushing for a settlement in the early days of the war may be naive in the context of Russian policy in Ukraine.
However, six months after the war, the need for the international community to find the bottom line of this conflict and push for reconciliation on both sides is important. This is more so because other important issues on the world agenda have been ignored or included the war in Ukraine – from climate change to the Sustainable Development Goals, to the war in Yemen, to energy and security. The diplomatic challenge for South Africa (and other BRICS countries) is whether there is an opportunity to bring Russia to the negotiating table and push for a lasting solution.
A fairer and more equitable system is a key element of South African policy. Importantly, South Africa recognizes the United Nations as the apex body of the world’s governance system but is advocating that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) be reformed. This last call added that the United Nations has failed to respond properly to the crisis in Ukraine.
Finally, South Africa is totally opposed to the imposition of unilateral sanctions by Western countries, especially because this shows a double standard in dealing with various conflicts. Also, South Africa considers the term “regime change” used by the West – whether in Iraq or Libya – as very problematic and an abuse of national authority. While the West insists that regime change is not their goal for Russia, South Africa views this with some skepticism. What is surprising is that she did not appeal to Russia for its intention to depose the current government in Kyiv.
Politics of solidarity
A key element in the foreign policy of the Central African Government (ANC) is to cooperate with parties and countries that supported the struggle for national liberation and apartheid rule or that are still struggling to regain their freedom. . Western Sahara and Palestine are both recent examples, while economic support and cooperation with Cuba is the first case. Read also : International attitudes towards the USA, NATO and Russia in times of crisis. The ANC also has long-standing ties with the Soviet Union, which supported its armed struggle and where many ANC leaders received education or military training. This support contrasted with the American labeling of the ANC as a terrorist organization and the opposition of the Reagan and Thatcher administrations to the movement in the United States and Great Britain in the 1980s.
The ANC has criticized what it sees as the arrogance and colonialism of the West – whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya – or has ignored the concerns of developing countries about al ‘issues such as access to immunity or trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights. . Migration and the treatment of African migrants—even at the beginning of the war on the Ukrainian border—is a hot topic.
Soviet/Russian support during apartheid—combined with Western double standards on civil society, the use of force, and the rule of law and democracy—made many in the ANC, the Communist Party of South Africa (a part of the ruling tri-party coalition), and the populist Economic Freedom Fighters (an offshoot of the ANC) have been swayed by Russia’s argument about “special military operations.”
The BRICS relationship has added another layer of unity. Since the creation of BRICS, the West has dismissed it as a phenomenon given the political and economic differences among its members. But the West has underestimated its relevance to its members as a geopolitical organization of the South (Russia is a member of the “honorary” Global South member). For South Africa, the smallest of the BRICS members, it is an important geopolitical group where the country can rub shoulders with emerging economies, China, and other like-minded leaders of the South. one about the need to reform (or change) the world order.
What can the West learn?
Much of the South African government’s narrative about the Russian invasion has focused on Western hypocrisy. But she also called the invasion a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. See the article : Sports Person of the Week – Spartan Swim Team represents SWLA on the national stage. South Africa has repeatedly reiterated that it is free to pursue an independent and independent foreign policy, and should not be expected to take part in a conflict that has no direct interest, or where she risks her own interests by aligning with one. edge.
At the beginning of the war, the West framed the conflict as one between democracy and authoritarianism. The voting behavior of the developing countries during the three votes in the UN General Assembly shows that this analysis is flawed. South Africa and other developing countries took a “non-aligned” position not because they had to accept Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead, this serves as a proxy for endless examples where the West has failed to deliver or live up to the standards it expects others to follow. Countries in the Global South don’t want to fall into direct line when superpowers push them. This means that the West (and others) should not take support for the development of democracy lightly. The attempt to invade Ukraine shows that developing countries are looking at all the points in determining whose side they will take or not take a side.