Lavrov says West has prevented negotiations to end the war in Ukraine

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PRETORIA, South Africa (TBEN) — Moscow was willing to negotiate with Ukraine in the early months of the war, but the US and other Western countries advised against Kiev, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday.

Lavrov’s remarks during a visit to South Africa were similar to those made last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin, that his country was meant to talk, but Ukraine’s Western allies prevented it.

The US and other Western nations have said Russia is not taking seriously negotiations to end the war, which will celebrate its anniversary next month.

“It is well known that we supported the proposal of the Ukrainian side to negotiate early in the special military operation and at the end of March the two delegations agreed on the principle of resolving this conflict,” Lavrov said.

“It is well known and openly publicized that our American, British and some European colleagues have told Ukraine that it is too early to reach an agreement, and that the settlement that was almost agreed has never been reviewed by the Kyiv regime. .”

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Russia has repeatedly rejected demands from Ukraine and the West for a complete withdrawal from Ukraine as a precondition for any negotiations. President Joe Biden has indicated that he is willing to talk to Putin if the Russian leader demonstrates that he is serious about ending the invasion.

Lavrov is in Pretoria for talks with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor as Russia pushes to strengthen ties with Africa’s most developed country and a historic ally amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

South Africa was seen as leading of several African countries to take a neutral stance on the war and refuse to condemn the Russian invasion – much to the disappointment of the US and other Western partners who also see South Africa as crucial to their plans to strengthen relations to build. in Africa.

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Lavrov met Pandor in the South African capital and is expected to visit other African countries during his trip. It is Lavrov’s second visit to Africa in six months as Russia seeks support.

The war in Ukraine and its impact on Africa’s 1.3 billion people, including rising oil and food prices, is expected to be the focus of Lavrov’s talks with Pandor.

“We are fully aware that conflict anywhere in the world has negative consequences for all of us, and as developing countries it especially affects us as the African continent,” said Pandor. “That is why we as South Africa have consistently articulated that we will always stand ready to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the continent and around the world.”

South Africa continues to maintain strong ties with Russia following the Soviet Union’s support of the country’s current governing party, the African National Congress, when it was a liberation movement fighting to end the apartheid system of repression against the black majority of South Africa.

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That relationship is largely why South Africa last year abstained from a United Nations vote condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Despite South Africa’s declared neutrality on Ukraine, Lavrov’s visit comes days after South African forces announced they would hold joint exercises with the Russian and Chinese navies off the east coast next month.

Lavrov’s visit to Africa last year followed closely on the heels of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to South Africa, which was seen as an attempt by the US to counter growing Russian influence over a strategically important continent. to go.

This time, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited Senegal and Zambia ahead of an official visit to South Africa starting Wednesday.

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