A South African army general stationed in Moscow days after South Africa was accused of sending weapons to Russia

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) – The top Russian army general and a South African army general met in Moscow on Monday to discuss “military cooperation,” according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The announcement came hours after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa denied the US accusations. that his country sided with Russia in the Ukraine war And sent weapons to help it.

Russian Ground Forces Commander General Oleg Salyukov met with South African Commander Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha at the Russian General Headquarters in Moscow, according to the Russian ministry.

“The two sides discussed the issue of military cooperation and the implementation of projects aimed at enhancing the combat readiness of the two countries’ armed forces,” the ministry said in a statement. “At meetings between military commanders, agreement was reached to further expand cooperation between ground forces in various fields.”

The Ministry of Defense announced that a South African delegation would visit a number of Russian military “education and training facilities”.

South Africa’s military said last week that the trip was planned long before the US ambassador to South Africa claimed that the country had provided weapons to Russia. That was when a US-sanctioned vessel clandestinely called at a South African naval base in December.

The South African government has denied that the official sale of arms was involved in the mooring of the Russian cargo ship, but has not specifically ruled out an arms deal.

Prime Minister Ramaphosa said an investigation was underway at Simon’s Town Naval Base near Cape Town to find out if anyone loaded weapons onto the Russian-flagged Lady R cargo ship.

In his weekly message to the nation on Monday, President Ramaphosa reaffirmed South Africa’s non-aligned stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The president’s statement was seen as a response to US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Briggeti, who raised allegations about arms shipments and questioned South Africa’s neutrality in the Ukraine war.

Brigeti was then summoned to a meeting with South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“I cannot accept that our non-aligned position favors Russia over others,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly message. “We also do not accept that it jeopardizes our relations with other countries.”

“We have been adamant about this,” Ramaphosa added. “South Africa has never been and will not be involved in a conflict between world powers.”

He also hinted that Russian President Vladimir Putin may visit South Africa in August for the BRICS economic bloc summit. The Kremlin has not confirmed that Putin will attend the BRICS summit.

Such a visit would once again be embroiled in diplomatic turmoil, as South Africa is a party to the treaty creating the International Criminal Court that issued the arrest warrant. Putin was indicted in March for war crimes involving the kidnapping of children from Ukraine.

Since the indictment, Putin has rarely traveled and only visited close Russian allies. Parties to the treaty are obliged to arrest Russian leaders.

Both Russia and South Africa said Monday’s meeting between their military leaders was part of a normal bilateral trip, but they have been scrutinizing Africa’s most advanced economy, which is seen as an influential country in the developing world. It is inevitable that the eye will become stronger.

South Africa is the only African country in the BRICS bloc which includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Aside from the weapons allegations, South Africa hosted Russian and Chinese warships and participated in naval exercises off the east coast in February, coinciding with the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Brigette said last week that U.S. officials “respect South Africa’s policy of neutrality and non-alignment in international affairs,” but “in reality, the South African government is effectively non-aligned.” I pointed out a series of problems that suggest that not non-aligned. ”

The Associated Press independently verified that the Lady R cargo ship was docked at a South African naval base for at least three days in December, as Brigety claimed. A review of records by the Associated Press also revealed that the Lady R was linked to a company sanctioned by the United States for transporting weapons for the Russian government and supporting war operations in Ukraine.


Mr. Magome reported from Johannesburg. Associated Press reporter Dasha Litvinova, who lives in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed to this report.

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