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South Africa – Russia – relations, arms transport to Russia. The White House comments

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We share Congressional concerns about a potential security partnership between South Africa and Russia, the White House said after calling on some US congressmen to impose sanctions on South Africa. A group of lawmakers is also calling for the US-Africa trade summit scheduled for later this year to be moved from South Africa. In their opinion, this should be a response to the country’s “deepening military relations” with Russia.

We share Congressional concerns about a potential security partnership between South Africa and Russia – said Judd Devermont, who in the White House is responsible for matters related to sub-Saharan Africa.

The American ambassador to Pretoria, Reuben Brigety, recently accused the South African government of supplying arms to Russia. According to him, the Russian freighter docked near Cape Town in December before returning to Russia loaded with weapons and ammunition.

Cape Town, South AfricaShutterstock

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According to these reports weapons from South Africa to Russia were transported by the merchant ship Lady R. In mid-May, spokesman for the National Security Council USA John Kirby declared that the administration Joe Biden consistently calls on countries not to supply weapons to invade Russia Ukraine. In this way, he answered journalists’ questions regarding allegations regarding the supply of arms to Russia via South Africa.

“We have not approved the transfer of any weapons to Russia,” said South African communications and digital technology minister Mondli Gungubele. At the end of 2022, he headed South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC).

List of congressmen

Influential US MPs recently called in a letter that South Africa should no longer enjoy trade privileges under the US Africa Development Act (AGOA).

Lady R in Cape TownNIC BOTHMA/EPA/PAP

This law, which expires in 2025, grants privileged access to the US market to African countries that meet certain democratic criteria. As the AFP agency wrote, some congressmen suggested that such a shipment of weapons, if proven, would violate US sanctions imposed in connection with Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

A group of lawmakers is also calling for the US-Africa trade summit scheduled for later this year to be moved from South Africa in response to the country’s “deepening military relationship” with Russia.

South African Navy shipBrenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images

White House: The law is very clear. South Africa responds

The White House did not comment directly on the call to impose sanctions on South Africa, but assured that “the law (is) very clear what needs to be done and that will not change with respect to South Africa.”

Molly Phee, responsible for Africa at the US State Department, said she expected South Africa to respect its long-standing non-aligned country policy. “South Africa is expected to respect the policy regarding this terrible conflict in Europe,” she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during the BRICS Summit. Photo from July 2018 kremlin.ru

South Africa refused to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, saying it wanted to remain neutral. Referring to the letter, South African Foreign Ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela stated on Twitter that “The State Department/White House has not made a decision to move the AGOA Forum from South Africa.”

Main photo source: NIC BOTHMA/EPA/PAP



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