Putin Looks to Prove Russia's Case Against the West With New Ally

Desperate to prove that Russia still has friends amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Kremlin is turning to African nations in hopes of finding an unexpected new ally.

On Monday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov headed to South Africa to kick off his second African tour since the invasion of Ukraine began nearly a year ago. Lavrov's

visit and his upcoming trips in February have been seen as a wider effort from Moscow to play offensive at African diplomacy. The stop in South Africa has already signaled

a shift, and hinted towards a possible new alliance for Russia. Despite previously calling on the Kremlin to withdraw from Ukraine unilaterally, South African Foreign Minister

Naledi Pandor said the country was no longer taking that position as of Monday. Pandor said to maintain that stance would "make me appear quite simplistic and infantile,

given the massive transfer of arms [to Ukraine]," Reuters reported. While her remarks are somewhat in line with South Africa's unusual position—the country has not

formally condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine—the outright reversal seemed to stun academics and experts. Michael Kimmage, who previously held the Russia/Ukraine

portfolio on the State Department's policy planning staff, told Newsweek that the new criticisms of Ukraine put the Russian narrative of the war on the world stage, showing the

West that Putin does have supporters who, to varying degrees, are buying into their version of the conflict.