Debate of Urgent National Public Importance: Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Mar 15, 2022 | Press Releases

Madam Speaker,

Honourable Members,

The world finds itself yet again on the brink of economic collapse, hot on the heels of the two-year-long Covid-19 crisis, which has altered the course of humanity. The socio-economic and socio-political climate is fragile, in need of recovery and newness.

Add to this, the latest international crisis, in the form of an unequivocally unnecessary invasion of Ukraine by Russia. It is fast-escalating into an international humanitarian crisis, on top of what the international community is already confronted with in various parts of the world, as we grapple with Covid-19 and its after-effects, notwithstanding ongoing wars, global terror, and displacement of people.

Therefore, at the outset we must call out Russia on its wrongness. The invasion of Ukraine and the current war is wrong, and in total violation of every international statute and protocol in existence, or imaginable.

The basics are this: Ukraine is a sovereign state in the international community of nations. It has a right to determine its own national interest. Russia has no right in law or in principle to impose itself on Ukraine, nor to determine an agenda for Ukraine.

Oppression, dictatorship and repression must be rejected wherever they manifest themselves in the world.

To be pro-Ukraine does not presuppose that one is anti-Russia, nor should being pro-Russia make one anti-Ukraine.

Furthermore, those who are friends of Russia are dishonest friends and unworthy of the name, if they fail to be frank and call Russia to order and denounce its war-centric attitude to Ukraine. The hallmark of friendship is honesty and the ability to tell our friends when they are wrong.

The South African government has failed dismally in its attempt to be a voice of reason, freedom, and democracy, when it chooses to be half-pregnant, being neither fish nor fowl, on this glaring violation of human rights and international protocols. 

Neutrality in a war advances the agenda of the aggressor, in this case Russia.

Russia’s own reservations about NATO notwithstanding, it must understand that you don’t start a war to prevent a war.

Therefore, we must reject the invasion and the war. Russia must pull out of Ukraine.

The United Nations must appoint a Special Envoy as matter of urgency to mediate the situation, provided Russia pulls out of Ukraine, and defense-military instruments and humanitarian assistance must be afforded to Ukraine.

Europe must itself be called out for its racism in how it has handled the refugee crisis flowing out of Ukraine. The blatant discrimination towards African and Black nationals has called into serious question the bona fides of the humanitarian assistance being meted out. Racism must be rejected, especially in a war.

If we are committed to justice and democracy, then we must reject this irrational, erratic, and egotistic Putin-paranoia-driven war; as we equally reject the One-China policy, which oppresses the Taiwanese and Tibetan people, and we must hold true to the principle of a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestine conflict and reject any human rights violations on both sides.

The point is this: wherever injustice, war and dictatorships rear their ugly heads we, as South Africans, must speak out because we know – first-hand – the realities of oppression better than most if colonialism and colonial apartheid are anything to go by.

Friend and foe alike must reject war and violence.

We must be unwavering in our efforts towards global peace, and accept that peace is an act of humanity, not ideology. The loss of life anywhere is a loss for humanity, not ideology. Any ideological or political discourse that thrives on, or results in war, loss of life and violence must be rejected, and every effort made to bring about peace. The international community must uphold the sovereignty of each state to determine its own suffrage.

The international community does not need another war or distraction, we need a global effort towards economic recovery, development, and growth, to push back on the frontiers of global poverty, inequality, and unemployment. The Putin madness is an unnecessary distraction from this noble international obligation and therefore this war must be rejected in the strongest possible terms, with contempt it deserves!

I thank-you!

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