South Africa downplays army chief visit to Moscow after US spat

South Africa downplays army chief visit to Moscow after US spat
SANDF members parade through Richards Bay during rehearsals ahead of the 2023 Armed Forces Day. (Photo: GCIS)

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa downplayed reports that an army delegation is visiting Moscow for talks on enhancing military cooperation, days after a row erupted with the US over allegations that Pretoria supplied weapons to Russia.

South Africa’s army chief Lawrence Mbatha is in Moscow for talks with military officials and will visit military educational institutions, the defence force said in a statement Monday. Mbatha was invited by his Russian counterpart and the bilateral meeting “was planned well in advance,” the statement said.|

“South Africa has military to military bilateral relations with various countries in the continent and beyond,” the defence force said. The army “receives numerous military delegations into the country and sends its own delegation to other countries to discuss matters of mutual interest,” it said.

Russia’s state-run Tass news service reported on the visit earlier Monday. It said a South African army delegation is visiting Russia for talks on enhancing military cooperation between the two nations and improving their combat readiness, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

The visit comes at an awkward time for South Africa, which has adopted a neutral stance over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has been trying to defuse a tit-for-tat with the US over allegations that it supplied weapons to Moscow. Pretoria has denied any knowledge of the armament shipments, but has appointed an independent judge to investigate the matter.

Its Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said on Sunday that the spat had been resolved with the US and South Africa is unlikely to face any repercussions.



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Clifford Els says:

    I am constantly amazed at the governments ability to open its mouth just to change feet. Seriously, right now we send a military delegation to Russia.

  • Rob Fisher says:

    So how long before the Ukraine army gets a lot of Russian abandoned equipment with “made in RSA” written all over it?

  • Richard Owen says:

    One delegation to USA to preserve SA status with respect to AGOA.
    Another delegation to Russia to discuss military cooperation.
    ANC in Wonderland ??

  • Jennifer Hughes says:

    The only positive thing is that SA really can’t offer any actual assistance to Russia’s disgusting war on Ukraine.

  • Jon Chetwynd-Palmer says:

    Ukraine is probably delighted that the ANC are helping Russia

  • Brian Doyle says:

    For South Africa this is not one step forward and two backwards,
    but rather 3 steps backwards. How can Ramaphosa allow this to happen taking his neutrality comments into account. Aligning like that with Russia should mean that General can be included in war crimes, especially taking into account the timing. Having an Army General visiting Russia is much worse than the Presedential envoy to USA as it shows Ramaphosa’s real stance

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