Brics ministers meet on Ukraine conflict Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources of Mozambique Carlos Alberto Fortes Mesquita shake hands after a joint news conference following their talks in Maputo, capital city of Mozambique, on Wednesday.

CAPE TOWN.  — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was meeting in South Africa with counterparts from the BRICS economic bloc of developing nations for discussions yesterday that will start with “an exchange of views” on major geopolitical issues, including the war in Ukraine, South Africa’s ambassador to the bloc said.

Most of the BRICS countries differ sharply from the position of the US and its Western allies on the war. Speaking ahead of the meeting, the South African ambassador, Anil Sooklal, referred to the West’s military aid to Ukraine as one of the things that “fuels the conflict.”

“Any endeavour that fuels the conflict does not solve the problem,” Sooklal said when asked for his reaction to Western “attempts” to transfer weapons to Ukraine.

“We do not know of any global conflict that has been solved though war,” he said. “All it does is cause more pain and suffering and, as BRICS countries, this is what we are saying: Let’s focus on finding a peaceful resolution to the challenges, rather than fueling the conflict.”

The BRICS bloc is made of up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The meeting of foreign ministers yesterday is a precursor to a larger BRICS summit scheduled for August in Johannesburg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been invited to attend the summer summit, but it’s unclear if he will. A visit by the Russian leader would put huge diplomatic pressure on South Africa. The country is a signatory to the treaty of the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant for Mr Putin.

South Africa has not clearly stated its position on executing the warrant. Rather, the government has said that it is taking legal advice on its options, a move seen by critics as an attempt to find a way out of its clear obligation to arrest Mr Putin as a signatory to the international court’s treaty.

Lavrov had official talks in at least three African countries on his way to South Africa, and his participation was clearly central to the BRICS talks taking place at a luxury Cape Town hotel that looks out over the South Atlantic Ocean.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who was expected to attend, sent his deputy instead, South Africa’s foreign ministry said, but all the other foreign ministers were present. – AP


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