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Ukraine War: Russia’s Lavrov visits ally South Africa

Sergey Lavrov, left, and his South African counterpart. Photo: AP

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov is in South Africa for talks with one of its most important allies in Africa.

The continent has been deeply divided over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and incidental attempts by the West to isolate Moscow.

Since the invasion in February last year, South Africa has consistently refused to condemn Russia, but has instead accused the US and its European allies of double standards.

So, shortly after arriving in Pretoria on Monday morning, Mr Lavrov met South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, even as some opposition parties and the small Ukrainian community condemned the trip as “insensitive”.

Reuters reports that Mr Lavrov and Mr Pandor are expected to hold a joint news conference around 10:00 GMT.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government says South Africa is neutral in the conflict and has expressed a desire to mediate.

Mr Pandor has repeatedly insisted that South Africa “will not” be dragged into taking sides, and has criticised the West for its “selective condemnation” of Russia while ignoring other issues such as the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

Despite proclaiming impartiality on the conflict and abstaining from voting on United Nations resolutions, South Africa has retained close relations with Moscow, historically a friend of the governing African National Congress when it was a liberation movement against white minority rule.

Writing by Tony Okerafor