US accuses S. Africa of providing Russia with ammo without evidence
The US ambassador to South Africa has made public allegations accusing Cape Town of providing Russia with ammunition through a covert naval operation.
The US ambassador to Cape Town, Reuben Brigety, accused South Africa of supplying Russia with munitions in a covert naval operation. According to the Financial Times, the accusations further deepened the foreign policy crisis for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the alleged act depicted a clear tilt toward the Kremlin in the context of the most recent events.
However, the US' public accusations resulted in an angry rebuke from the president, who has played a significant role in establishing South Africa's neutral position on the war in Ukraine, despite US efforts to turn the nation into a key factor to counter its declining hegemony in Africa.
In a statement on Thursday, Brigety declared: “Among the things we noted was the docking of the cargo ship in the Simon’s Town naval base between 6 to 8 December 2022, which we are confident uploaded weapons and ammunition on to that vessel in Simon’s Town as it made its way back to Russia,”
The US argued that the cargo in question was loaded onto the Lady R vessel, which is a Russian vessel subjugated to US sanctions, after it docked at Simon’s Town naval dockyard near Cape Town, earlier in December.
Moreover, Brigety stated that "the arming of the Russians is extremely serious and we do not consider this issue to be resolved," reaffirming that "the arming of Russia by South Africa … is fundamentally unacceptable.”
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Ramaphosa: Ship docking is 'public knowledge'
After the US ambassador voiced that Washington considered itself entitled to making claims about what is considered "fundamentally unacceptable" regarding decisions made by another sovereign nation, the South African president expressed that it was "disappointing" that Brigety had “adopted a counterproductive public posture.”
In a statement, the President said that the public allegations made by Brigety "undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership that characterized the recent engagements between US government officials and a South African official delegation led by National Security Special Advisor to the President, Dr Sydney Mufumadi."
Then, Ramaphosa explained that the docking of Lady R in South Africa has been "public knowledge" and "While no evidence has been provided to date to support these allegations, the Government has undertaken to institute an independent inquiry to be led by a retired judge."
To be more precise and transparent, the President underscored "the Lady R matter " had already been discussed between South Africa and US officials, "and there was an agreement that an investigation will be allowed to run its course, and that the US intelligence services will provide whatever evidence in their possession."
Most recently, South Africa's ruling party has been clear about its position vis-a-vis the war in Ukraine and has even offered to mediate peace talks while also urging the country to exit the International Criminal Court due to "unfair treatment."
Russia to remain South Africa's friend amid pressure from West: Pandor
South Africa's International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said, on March 30th, that her country will not cut ties with Russia as per the wishes of third parties or countries.
"There are some who wish for us not to have relations with Russia and we made it clear that Russia is a friend [we hope to have] for many years. We cannot become enemies with many countries around the world at the demand of others," Pandor said, while hoping that the two countries remain friends for many years to come.
Speaking at a South Africa-Russia trade and economy panel, Palendor mentioned that these matters were greatly significant and strategic for both countries as they traverse a "challenging geopolitical terrain" of sanctions.
#SARussiaRelations🇿🇦🤝🇷🇺| Minister Naledi Pandor receives Mr Alexander Kozlov, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation ahead of the 17th Session of the SA-Russia Joint Inter-Governmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation. pic.twitter.com/nj7gUpWyLy— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) March 30, 2023
Furthermore, earlier in January this year, Pandor called on the US to review its sanctions due to their impact on unrelated countries, arguing that South Africa has always had an issue with unilateral sanctions on many countries that are unrelated to a conflict and that the fact of imposing sanctions was itself "not very helpful a strategy in resolving problems."
She further pointed out that the approach had not worked for Zimbabwe, Venezuela, or Cuba, and that South Africa might adhere to sanctions where it feels that international or humanitarian law is infringed, "but where we feel that these are merely unilateral impositions and don't have the authority of the United Nations, we don't believe that South Africa is bound by them."
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