South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly / © AFP
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday denounced the billions of dollars spent on war instead of development as he renewed his call for diplomacy in Ukraine.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Ramaphosa said it was time to "massively scale up" aid on development as the world falls short on ambitious UN-backed goals to end extreme poverty by 2030.
"It is a grave indictment of this international community that we can spend so much on war, but we cannot support action that needs to be taken to meet the most basic needs of billions of people," he said.
Ramaphosa said he spoke at the summit in New York to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about a peace initiative by African nations.
"As the international community, we must do everything within our means to enable meaningful dialogue, just as we should refrain from any actions that fuel the conflict," he said.
South Africa, along with other developing nations, considers itself neutral in the Ukraine war and has refused to isolate Moscow, recalling the former Soviet Union's support for ending apartheid.
But the US ambassador in South Africa has aired allegations that the country allowed arms shipments to Russia, a claim denied by Ramaphosa after an investigation.
In his speech, Ramaphosa stressed South Africa's democratic credentials and urged diplomacy after a string of military takeovers on the continent including in Niger.
"As a global community, we should be concerned by recent incidents of unconstitutional changes of government in some parts of Africa," he said.