‘Just a Vacation in Switzerland’: Expert on Why South Africa Not Attending Ukraine Conference

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In a move reflecting a broader reluctance among Global South nations to engage in what some perceive as a Western-centric initiative, South Africa has announced it will not participate in the upcoming peace conference on the Ukraine crisis scheduled to be held in Switzerland. Brazilian President Lula da Silva has also declined attendance.

South Africa’s decision not to participate in the peace conference on Ukraine in Switzerland is due to the fact that one of the most important parties – Russia – will not be present, making the event meaningless, Prof. Zwelethu Jolobe, Head of Political Studies Department and Associate Professor of Political Science at Cape Town University, told Sputnik Africa.

“There is no real appetite in South Africa about promoting a peace conference that really will have no weight and will have no authority and will have no important legal standing if one of the important actors in the conflict is not present and is prohibited from being present,” he said. “Whatever is discussed there, whatever statement comes out of there or whatever pronouncements people make has no weight. It’s just a vacation in Switzerland.”

Another reason for Pretoria’s refusal to participate in the conference is that South Africa views the conflict through a different lens than NATO and its Western allies, Jolobe opined.

“I think that South Africa’s position is that the Ukraine War has got a lot to do with the relationship between Russia and NATO, as opposed to Russia and Ukraine. Yes, The Ukraine kind of angle is important there in terms of the current government, but ultimately they see it as the kind of conflict that is brought by the relationship between NATO and Russia,” he said.

In addition, the researcher called Moscow an “ally” of Pretoria, suggesting that South Africa cannot take positions that are contrary to Russia – its BRICS counterpart, “a member with which you are trying to build a kind of different world.” This perspective is shared by Brazil, Jolobe explained, an approach that “the West obviously does not like.”

“They [Western countries] don’t really like the idea of having Brazil, South Africa or India taking positions that are consistent with the interests of Russia because of BRICS,” the expert noted. “So you’re really looking at it from the point of view of the way in which the US interprets international relations from its role as a country that wants a unipolar world of which it is the hegemony, if it makes sense.

Returning to the conflict topic, the analyst emphasized that the biggest mistake of the Ukrainian government was trying to experiment or see itself as part of the West.

The only real solution that can be found to this conflict is a solution that does not include the interests of the West, because it is these Western interests that have created such friction in Ukraine, Jolobe argued.

“It is in their interest to have the two countries in conflict,” he said.

As for Russia, Moscow has always been open to thinking about things differently and trying to do things differently to achieve peace, the expert concluded.

“Putin’s approach […] was to always keep a door open, to always do this to never shut things up,” he pointed out.

Switzerland will hold a conference on Ukraine near the city of Lucerne on June 15-16. Russia will not participate. The press secretary of the Russian Embassy in Bern, Vladimir Khokhlov, told Sputnik earlier that Switzerland had not sent Russia an invitation to participate in the summit on Ukraine, and Moscow would not attend in any case. He added that the idea of a peace conference, which is strongly promoted by the organizers, is unacceptable for Russia, because “this is just another version of imposing an unworkable ‘peace formula’ that does not take into account Russian interests.”

Moscow has repeatedly indicated that it is ready for negotiations, but Kiev has legislated a ban on them. The West calls on Russia to negotiate, which Moscow has shown it is ready to do, but at the same time the West ignores Kiev’s constant refusal to talk.

Earlier, the Kremlin said that there are no conditions for the situation in Ukraine to move in a peaceful direction now, the absolute priority for Russia is to achieve the goals of the special operation; at the moment this is possible only by military means.

The South African presidency told Sputnik earlier in the day that the country’s leader Cyril Ramaphosa would not attend the peace conference on Ukraine in Switzerland due to his participation in post-election activities.

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