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Friday, 11 March 2022 18:36

Ukrainian ambassador refutes claims by Russia that mercenaries are recruited from SA.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Ukraine's ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitova, refuted claims that local mercenaries are being recruited to fight the war against Russia.

Abravitova believes Russia is using "all the bad stories and narratives", and "just transforming" the words [to fit their narrative].

She was speaking at the Cape Town Press Club on Friday, where she delved into South Africa's stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On Friday, the Russian Embassy in South Africa tweeted that Ukrainian diplomats in SA are involved in recruiting and sending mercenaries to help Ukraine fight the war.

"This is a grave violation of the international law in terms of status and functions of diplomatic mission," the tweet read.

"When Russia is providing a narrative, you are starting to think maybe something is wrong about it. I would be very careful," Abravitova said.

Abravitova also said she is yet to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"I do believe that President Ramaphosa is a very influential mediator, a very experienced one, and I am sure that he knows that he has to listen to both sides. We are ready to negotiate. My president is always open to negotiation. We want to negotiate according to the rules of international law, and we want to respect everyone, and Putin as well to respect our territorial integrity and sovereignty," she said.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa called Russia's President Vladimir Putin to discuss the conflict.

Ramaphosa says South Africa has been approached to play a "mediation role" in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, at least 2.3 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their country since a violent invasion by Russia commenced two weeks ago, with hundreds of civilians and military officials left dead by the military offensive.

"I outlined our position on the conflict that has unfolded, as well as our belief that the conflict should be resolved through mediation and negotiation between the parties and - if need be - with the help of agencies that can help bring a solution to the conflict.

"President Putin appreciated our balanced approach. We believe this position enables both parties to subject the conflict to mediation and negotiation. Based on our relations with the Russian Federation and as member of BRICS, South Africa has been approached to play a mediation role, "Ramaphosa said.

In a statement, the Russian government said the Presidents will keep communication lines open between the two countries.

"At the request of [President] Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of Russia spoke about the reasons for and goals of the special military operation to protect Donbass.

"He also informed the South African leader about the situation regarding talks with representatives of the Ukrainian authorities. The President of South Africa supported the ongoing political and diplomatic efforts," the statement said.