South Africa


Russia welcomes ‘friendly state’ SA’s support – but do we also support invasion, bombardment and war crimes in Ukraine?

Russia welcomes ‘friendly state’ SA’s support – but do we also support invasion, bombardment and war crimes in Ukraine?
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend the opening ceremony of the Army-2022 International Military and Technical Forum and the Army-2022 International military games at the Russian Armed Forces’ Patriot Park in Kubinka, Russia, 15 August 2022. The Army-2022 international military-technical forum takes place from 15 to 21 August. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Pavel Bednyakov / Kremlin Pool / Sputnik)

Russia has welcomed South Africa as one of its ‘friendly states’ in Africa and has promised to increase military cooperation with the country.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the presence of South Africa and other African states at the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security this week was “visible confirmation” that the US and Nato had failed to isolate Russia because of its war against Ukraine. 

Defence Minister Thandi Modise is heading a South African delegation to the conference. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Flying Circus — Thandi Modise’s shocking trip to Russian security conference

“It is very encouraging that prominent military commanders from our friendly states — Burundi, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Ethiopia and the Republic of South Africa — are present in this hall today,” Shoigu said at the conference. 

“We appreciate your support and intend to increase cooperation on mutually beneficial projects… Despite attempts of the US and Nato to isolate Russia once again, your participation in the forum is a visible confirmation that these plans have collapsed.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Huh? In Moscow, Defence Minister Thandi Modise calls for ‘warmongers’ to be dragged to the ‘table of peace’ ”

Shoigu said African governments and leaders were “holding their own” and pursuing their own agendas of independence, sovereignty, economic development and defence capability in a multipolar world. They were thereby resisting, he implied, the pressure from the West “to return to the order and rules of engagement typical of the colonial period”.

‘Radical change’

This was “a time of radical change in global and regional security. The unconditional dominance of the US and its allies is a thing of the past.

After the Bell

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during an official welcome ceremony for heads of states and governments at the Russia-Africa Summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, 23 October 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Sergei Chiriov / Pool)

“On February 24, 2022, the start of the special military operation in Ukraine marked the end of the unipolar world. Multipolarity has become a reality. The poles of this world are clearly defined. The main difference between them is that some respect the interests of sovereign states and take into account the cultural and historical particularities of countries and peoples, while others disregard them.”

Shoigu said that in Ukraine, “The Russian military is being confronted by combined Western forces that run the leadership of that country in a hybrid war against Russia.”

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“Nato’s efforts are aimed at prolonging the agony of the Kyiv regime,” he said, but insisted that the goals of Russia’s “special military operation” (its euphemism for the invasion of Ukraine) would nonetheless be achieved and that the West’s plans to strategically and economically weaken Russia were failing.

“The dollar has not reached the ceiling of 200 roubles, as predicted by the US president, the Russian economy has stood firm.” (The current exchange rate is about 60.5 roubles to the dollar.)

Western ‘superweapons’

Shoigu also claimed that “superweapons” which Western countries have begun supplying to Ukraine — such as the US Himars multiple long-range missile system and long-range howitzers — were not having a “significant impact” on the war. However, he added that Russia was studying these “trophy weapons” captured in Ukraine to improve Russia’s counter to them.

“The supply of Nato weapons to Kyiv means that Western countries are responsible for their inhumane use and for the deaths of civilians in Donbas and in the liberated territories. 

“Ukrainian armed forces operations are planned in Washington and London. Not only are the coordinates of the targets to be attacked provided by Western intelligence, but the input of this data into weapons systems is conducted under the full control of Western specialists.

“Kyiv’s role in the West’s combat approach has been reduced to supplying manpower, which is seen as expendable. This explains the huge loss of personnel in Ukraine’s armed forces and territorial defence formations.

“So far, the real figures of dead soldiers and mobilised so-called territorial defence forces have been concealed by the Kyiv leadership. In time, however, this information will become public.”

Nuclear and chemical arms

Shoigu dismissed speculation in Western media about Russia’s readiness to use tactical nuclear weapons or chemical weapons in Ukraine as “gibberish” and “lies”. 

“From a military point of view, there is no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve its goals. The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack. Their use is limited to extraordinary circumstances as defined in the Russian guideline documents, which are open to public inspection.”

Shoigu also claimed that — unlike the US — Russia had completely destroyed all its chemical weapons, in 2017. He repeated earlier claims that the US had conducted banned military and biological research in Ukraine. He also insisted that Russian military commanders were complying with the Geneva Conventions on humane warfare.

Atrocity accusations

Russian troops have been widely accused of atrocities in Ukraine, including the torture and execution of civilians and the rape of women.

Shoigu rejected Nato’s justification for admitting Sweden and Finland as members, that it was a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said the two countries had been cooperating practically with Nato for years. 

He repeated Russia’s threat that if Nato deployed strike weapons to Sweden and Finland, this would “change the security environment in the Baltic region and the Arctic and will require a reconsideration of approaches to defence of Russian territory”.

He noted that Russia had already included part of this reconsideration in its updated Maritime Doctrine approved by President Vladimir Putin on 31 July. DM


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  • Jeroen Dubbelman says:

    It would be very interesting to understand what percentage of people in South Africa support our minister Thandi. I have a feeling it is a lot less than 50%! Of course more than 50% live in such squalor they would not care.

    This relationship between the ANC and Russia is a concern as it will affect the real Western investments we receive.

    Viva! A better life for all……….ANC elite.

    • Wendy Dewberry says:

      I agree. The average decent citizen of SA is not aligned with Russia after the Ukraine war invasions. Proof that our government makes decisions based on money rather than ethics. But is any political institution anywhere in the world any different in that regard ?

      • Johann Olivier says:

        Yes, Ms Dewberry. The Europeans are accepting enormous, immediate & ongoing pain to support Ukraine. So, they ARE different in that regard.

  • Sheda Habib says:

    Mr Jones

  • Miles Japhet says:

    So attacking a sovereign country, where the majority of its citizens are happy with the status quo, is OK?
    Commentary on the Wests’ support of the Ukraine is irrelevant – their support should not have been needed in the first place.
    The ANC is hypocritical – their heads are buried in the past.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    We do not want to get in the middle of this conflict between the East and the West. Notably very recent visits from delegations from both America and Russia to African countries including South Africa are most likely aimed at involvement in African affairs and both countries have hidden agendas. Ukraine most certainly would have been a talking point. Any war should be condemned. We do not want to be taking sides in any wars. This war is far more about the Eastern and Western governments capitalist objectives than about Ukraine itself. Ukraine is one of the countries globally that finds itself as a battleground in the middle. Africa is rapidly getting itself involved in the middle of another cold war and this must be avoided at all costs.

  • Willem Boshoff says:

    The ANC, much like Mugabe, has a deep seated resentment against the West which poisons their judgement and causes them to turn a blind eye to atrocities. The comrades are still very much comrades and the expansion of NATO is a thorn in their sides. Russia’s nuclear arsenal safeguards them against any severe military action from NATO, but I guess “feeling threatened” will be a good a reason as any to invade a sovereign state when your war is an ideological one. Shame on the ANC.

    • Christopher Bedford says:

      Shame indeed. The ANC does a lot of things that make me shake my head in despair but this makes me *angry*. Just because the commies supported the struggle they feel some kind of solidarity with Russia – not even the same country, and certainly no longer communist. And the remarks by Shoigu are exactly what commentators said SA’s “neutrality” would lead to: Russia’s belief that support – by any country – is validation of their illegal, immoral position on Ukraine.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Putin’s Russia, in true Soviet style, the DNA is the same, is a putrid stinking swamp of lies, propaganda, misinformation and deception. Add mass murder and state sponsored violence and repression as well. They are masters of denial, evil and are hideous beyond words. Only the most wayward, idiotic and morally bankrupt would believe such crap and governments that are attending are a veritable gang of outcasts. They talk about sovereignty, nations charting their own course etc – the hypocrisy and double standards are astounding when they are conducting a genocidal murderous illegal and unjustified war against a neighbour wanting the same. NATO is not prolonging the war, they are assisting a nation fight for its freedom and independence. The odious vile Putin expects and demands carte blanche to do as he pleases, as if he has Divine right to restore his lost empire, which added no value to any nation and was kept in control through violence, retribution and murder. Today is Ukraine, tomorrow is Moldavia, Estonia etc. This wicked little nothing-nik of a KGB thug, with so much blood on his hands, must go back to his country and get lost forever, hopefully 6ft under in shit-hole where he belongs. Eternal shame on the SA government for its blind support and participation. This country can and will only move forward once this abominable party that it has become is consigned to the rubbish heap or even more appropriately, the sewerage where it belong. Betrayal/treason!

    • Bryan Shepstone says:

      Hear, hear! 👍

      • Marilyn Keegan says:

        Agree 100% with you Sergio. The ANC seem to have completely forgotten that they are a party that liberated South Africa. Now, they side with the very worst human rights abusers in the world. My son lives in America and I have friends and family that live in the UK. If the ANC thinks that I , as a South African citizen, will join Russia in any Third World War against the West, they truly are living in a delusional world. The simple equation West= Colonialism is so stupid and so devoid of any reasoned intellectual thinking that it beggars belief.

        • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

          Marilyn, the anc only ‘liberated’ the masses for the benefit of a few deployee cadres eating at the trough of riches supplied by the taxpayers of SA. They have never been an organisation of integrity. Look at their ‘bible’ the NDR and it is clear that destruction of the country for the benefit of a few has always been the goal.

      • Stephen Fish says:


      • Stephen Fish says:

        Agree with you Bryan!!

    • Tim Price says:

      You’ve set it out perfectly, well done.

  • Jeff Hume says:

    The ANC’s kowtowing to Russian aggression should embarrass all South Africans and should be embarrassing to the ANC, as Putin’s Russia and its oligarchs is the best example of White Monopoly Capital on the planet.

  • John Forbes says:

    What a sad, sad country we have become, being a lap dog to Russia, which country has retreated back into the cold, and beyond, where the USSR once was.

    It is interesting to see who is also at the Russian conference from Africa. Burundi, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Sudan, Uganda, Chad and Ethiopia. Are they the company that we want to be aligned with. All the major African players are absent and with good reason. And to think that South Africa was once seen as the powerhouse of Africa. How low we have sunk!

    One thing is for sure, the ANC does no longer represents the majority of South Africans, but they are too blind to see.

  • Fran Gebhardt says:

    Is there a word for sabotage of the country by its own government?

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Well I guess if we get cheap fuel from Russia and our tame oligarch pays the ANC Provident Fund payments, well who gives a damn! Any South African with half a brain is hanging their head in shame. This is just disgraceful.

  • Keith Scott says:

    Please forget all the analysis and angst. It’s all about the money that the ANC receives from Russia. It seems that some journalists and readers have forgotten a tidy little arrangement as outlined in the Amabhungane article in the DM on 9 May: “ANC’s manganese ‘gold’ mine joint venture with sanctioned Russian oligarch”

  • Mariella Norman says:

    I wonder if, and how much, the ANC got paid by Putin or an oligarch to attend this conference. Maybe our sleuth journalists can follow the money.

  • Neil Parker says:

    I cannot find a single mitigating factor to justify our government’s stance. If times were different and this government was in power when Hitler invaded Poland , they would surely have trotted out the same garbage that they are now. The ANC has delusions of grandeur if they somehow think that by pandering (I can think of less flattering words!) to Russia, they can become players on the world stage.

    Thandi Modise a “prominent military commander”. Oh please! Perhaps more pertinently, has the ANC’s RET faction staged something of a palace coup because I am sure (or at least would hope!) there are saner heads within the ranks ?

  • Concerned . . says:

    I knew the ANC was out of touch with the SA people, but this is like they are living on the moon….. I am honestly embarrassed by the minister’s speech and physical presence in Russia. In the broader sense this is a struggle between autocracy and democracy, and the ANC, the leader of our democratic South Africa are showing what style of rule they prefer………… the whole country should be very worried

  • Brian Van Der Vijver says:

    A completely one sided article with very little in the way of historical context. Regurgitated Main Stream Media `news` and `morality`.
    After all what is NATO doing along Russia`s border and why have they offered NATO membership to Ukraine when the cold War was supposed to have ended in 1991? Honorable intentions no doubt.
    What about the endless war crimes committed by the US and their poodles? The destruction and anarchy in the wake of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc. gets no mention from our moral friends. With the Main Stream Media`s constant cheerleading. They knew, and so should you, that the causes of these conflicts were based on blatant lies.

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      I agree. I am certainly no fan of Russia, but neither a fan of the West. Both have dodgy histories and as you have mentioned, based on main stream media. Our media is very aligned to the west. As an African, I wish we could get it together to make our country and continent great without having to be puppets for the East or West. Wishful thinking though.

    • Paddy Ross says:

      One can not apparently say it enough times “NATO is a defensive organisation” to which democratic nations apply for membership so that if they are invaded by any aggressor, NATO members will join with them in repulsing the aggressor. Remember the Four Musketeers? – ” All for one, one for all”.

    • Neil Parker says:

      Syria ? You mention Syria. I didn’t know that Putin was a US poodle – now that’s news to me! But let’s hope that if somehow the mess in Ukraine can be resolved, a saner world will find means to settle the conflicts in all of those countries. I would add that “whataboutism” is – in general – not particularly helpful and certainly does not justify the atrocities perpetrated against the people of Ukraine not to mention Syria.

  • Sheda Habib says:

    I read a comment below and went and spoke to our workforce of 65 pax.
    47 voted for Russia.
    What was interesting is that many of the known, racist leaning few, made up the majority of the remaining 18 backing the USA.
    Wake up, smell the roses, South Africans are not captured by foreign Western propaganda.

    • Rg Bolleurs says:

      So it’s just fine for a dictatorship to invade a democracy just because it feels like it ? Democracies have freedom, dictatorships are jails.

      Funny how russia and China have zero problems with immigration. Nobody in their right mind would want to go there.

  • Peter Brink says:

    I cannot imagine Nelson Mandela posing with a dictator who is in the midst of brutally invading a democratic neighboring nation.

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      I can imagine him posing with many dictators though, who oppress their own people. In fact, perhaps I don’t have to imagine it.

  • Johann Olivier says:

    LOL! Military co-operation from Russia? That would fit right into the South African playbook. Based on what we’ve seen in Ukraine, it’s all sub-standard, most often due to corruption & inept management. The one unintended consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that the former has been shown to be a somewhat toothless tiger that garners respect ONLY because it has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

  • Sheda Habib says:

    I have read all the comments, a week later and realize two things.
    South Africans have no clue when it comes to Russian/USA politics
    Secondly , colonialism is alive and well, amongst an obvious demographic, in our land

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