German foreign minister challenges South Africa over stance on Russian war effort

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Germany’s foreign minister on Tuesday called on Russia to “stop the bombing” of Ukraine, a pointed message during a visit to South Africa as it draws accusations of aiding Moscow’s war effort.

Annalena Baerbock’s challenge came during a one-day visit to Pretoria that had been largely framed as focusing on energy and climate issues.

But South Africa’s stance on the war in Ukraine has come under scrutiny since US Ambassador Reuben Brigety claimed South Africa had secretly loaded weapons onto a Russian ship which docked at a naval base near Cape Town in December.

These allegations have raised serious concerns among South Africa’s Western allies about its stance on the war. US lawmakers have even called for some sort of punishment for Africa’s most developed economy for what they see as its pro-Russian stance.

The South African government says it is neutral in the war in Ukraine and denies that an arms shipment has been sent to Russia. But South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered an investigation into last year’s visit to the Russian freighter Lady R, which is under US sanctions for allegedly transporting weapons on behalf of the Russian government.

Baerbock did not directly refer to the weapons allegations when he made comments alongside South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor ahead of their meeting on Tuesday. But she said the rising food and oil prices that are causing hardship on the African continent were the result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“For this suffering to end, the war must end,” Baerbock said. “For the war to end, Russia must stop the bombardments and withdraw its soldiers. protect us all.

Pandor spoke of the “very substantial” relationship between South Africa and Germany. Germany is South Africa’s third largest trading partner behind China and the United States

“South Africa and Germany share many common values ​​on peace and security, human rights, climate change, sustainability and economic development,” Mr. Pandor said.

South Africa has moved to protect its international reputation and its relations with its Western partners following Brigety’s accusations in May.

The country also faces a possible diplomatic peril in August that could further strain relations with the West when it hosts a summit of the BRICS bloc of emerging economies made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

South Africa has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the summit, even though he faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes related to child abduction in Ukraine.

South Africa is a signatory to the ICC treaty and is obligated to arrest Putin if he sets foot on the country’s territory, but has not pledged to do so.

A senior member of South Africa’s ruling ANC party said he would “welcome” Putin.


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