South Africa condemns US claims its arming Russia, amid diplomatic fallout

2023-05-13 19:01:16
South Africa condemns US claims its arming Russia, amid diplomatic fallout

South Africa’s foreign ministry has summoned the US ambassador over accusations he made that the country had provided arms to Russia for its war with Ukraine, threatening to seriously strain their ties.

South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement that the country’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor, would speak with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken amid the diplomatic fallout.

The US ambassador, Reuben Brigety, said at a press conference on Thursday that South Africa had loaded weapons and ammunition on to a Russian vessel, which is under sanctions, at the Simon’s Town naval base near Cape Town in December last year.

The South African leadership has repeatedly stated that they are neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and have frequently called for a negotiated settlement.

The arms were then transported to Russia, Brigety claimed. He called South Africa’s “arming” of Russia “fundamentally unacceptable”.

The office of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa criticized Brigety on Thursday for making the allegations.

Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement that no evidence had been provided to support these allegations and that the government planned to form an independent inquiry into the matter.

The South African presidency called the allegations “disappointing” and warned that the remarks “undermine” the relationship between the US and South African governments.

Since the onset of the war, the US and the European Union have supplied Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems despite Russia's repeated warnings that the Western military assistance will only prolong the war.

South Africa has a historical relationship with Russia owing to the former Soviet Union’s support for the ruling African National Congress when it was a liberation movement fighting to end the apartheid regime of segregation that oppressed the country’s Black majority.

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