US accuses South Africa of supplying arms to Russia. Pretoria says it will launch investigation

The US has accused South Africa of sending weapons to Russia as part of a “covert naval operation”, The Financial Times reports.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was “very concerned” by the reports that South Africa could have exported weapons to Russia, Handelsblatt writes. According to Baerbock, “anyone who sends arms to Russia extends the war of aggression that violates international law”.

On Friday, RIA Novosti reported that the South African Foreign Ministry has issued a note of protest to the US ambassador over his statement that Pretoria could have supplied weapons to Russia. notes that US envoy to South Africa Reuben Brigety claimed that the country had sent ammo and weapons to Russia via Russia’s Lady R cargo ship which “docked secretly at a naval base near the city of Cape Town for three days in December”.

“Among the things we noted was the docking of the cargo ship in the Simon’s Town naval base between 6th to 8th December, 2022, which we are confident uploaded weapons and ammunition onto that vessel in Simon’s Town as it made its way back to Russia,” News24 quoted Brigety as saying.

The envoy also said that top US officials are “deeply concerned” about the incident that should not take place as part of actions taken by a neutral country in supporting any party in the Russia-Ukraine war.

The US State Department later said that the national authorities raised this issue directly with South African officials. Spokesperson Vedant Patel said:

“We have serious concerns about the docking of a sanctioned Russian vessel at a South African naval port in December of last year.”

“We have been quite clear and have not parsed words about any country taking steps to support Russia’s illegal and brutal war in Ukraine,” he added.

The South African president’s office issued a statement on Thursday to note that “the Ambassador’s remarks undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership” between the countries.

“While no evidence has been provided to date to support these allegations, the Government has undertaken to institute an independent enquiry to be led by a retired judge.”

The statement notes that a meeting between a South African delegation and the US officials reached a conclusion that the US intelligence would provide all the evidence they had.

“It is therefore disappointing that the US Ambassador has adopted a counter-productive public posture

that undermines the understanding reached on the matter and the very positive and constructive engagements between the two delegations,” the statement concludes.

According to The Financial Times, South Africa has declared that it maintains a neutral position in this war, however, the South African government is under pressure due to the signs that it favours Russia, for example, by conducting joint naval exercises. In addition, President Cyril Ramaphosa has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the BRICS leaders’ summit in Durban in August, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him.

In January, the South African government stated that it had not approved any arms shipments from South Africa to Russia since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.

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