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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. Picture: UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. Picture: UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

After weeks of waiting, President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally had a phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Had a phone conversation with @CyrilRamaphosa. Told about our resistance to Russian aggression. Discussed the threat of a global food crisis, deepening relations with the Republic of SA and co-operation within international organisations,” tweeted Zelensky on Wednesday evening.

Ramaphosa, who has previously confirmed through Twitter that he has had telephonic conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden, has yet to confirm the phone call.

Ukrainian ambassador to SA Liubov Abravitova confirmed to TimesLIVE on Thursday morning that the phone call did take place.

“The call took place yesterday [Wednesday] evening.”

When asked if she had facilitated the call, she said: “Of course.”

Earlier reports noted that bickering between SA and Ukrainian diplomats was behind the delay in the phone call between the two heads of state.

The Ukrainians were said to be unhappy that SA requested a call between the two presidents a week after Ramaphosa had a telephone conversation with Putin.

Department of international relations and co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela told the Sunday Times it was Abravitova’s responsibility to facilitate the meeting after a request was made on March 11.

“Our president is waiting for [that phone call] so that he can engage with her president. Can she make that happen like the Russians made it happen with their president, Putin?” asked Monyela.

However, in an interview with the newspaper, Abravitova said she had been struggling to get an audience with both international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor and Ramaphosa. The closest she could get to Ramaphosa was through an informal meeting with his special adviser on international relations, Maropene Ramokgopa.

On Thursday, she was happy the phone call had finally happened.

She said: “Definitely. It is the first engagement for many years. At least in 10 years.”

TimesLIVE

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