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On Russia, SA is its own worst enemy

Ideas

On Russia, SA is its own worst enemy

Unlike its Brics partners, the ANC government has backed the Ukraine war aggressor while getting nothing in return

Columnist

SA has much to learn from how vigorously its Brics partners India, China and Brazil have defended their own strategic interests in their relationships with Russia during the Ukraine conflict. SA’s positioning in the Russia-Ukraine war has been at best naive and at worst lap-dog-like — both destructive to the country’s economy, stability and trading relations with non-Brics countries.

SA has abstained from criticising Russia or supporting Ukraine, essentially indirectly supporting Russia, without extracting tough concessions from Russia in return. This means SA is staying “neutral” without getting any direct benefits from Russia. The war has negatively impacted on SA’s economy, increasing food, transport and energy price inflation — risking another violent revolt, like last July’s looting, by the hard-pressed poor.

The irony appears to be lost on many ANC leaders, who in the past have loudly — and rightly — complained about regime change engineered by Western countries. Now that Russia is pursuing regime change through war, the ANC government falls silent. It and other African countries have in the past insisted on the “sovereignty” of African nations run by brutal dictators as a reason such governments should not be criticised or dislodged by outsiders. Sovereignty is now forgotten in the case of Ukraine because the regime changer, Russia, is an ally...

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