Russian, South African Generals Meet After US Arms Accusation

American ambassador had suggested weapons were shipped to aid Ukraine invasion
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2023 6:40 PM CDT
South African General Goes to Moscow After US Accusation
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa answers questions in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, on Thursday.   (AP Photo)

Russia's top army general and his South African counterpart discussed "military cooperation" while meeting Monday in Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The announcement came hours after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa denied accusations by the US that his country was siding with Russia in the war in Ukraine and had sent Moscow weapons for it, the AP reports. Gen. Oleg Salyukov, the commander of Russia's ground forces, met the chief of South Africa's army, Lt. Gen. Lawrence Mbatha, at Russia's general command headquarters in Moscow, the Russian ministry said. It added, "The meeting between the military commanders yielded agreements on the further expansion of cooperation between the land forces in various areas."

The Defense Ministry said a South African delegation would visit a number of Russian army "educational and training facilities." The South African army said the trip was planned well in advance of the US ambassador to South Africa alleging last week that the country had provided weapons to Russia when a ship under US sanctions made a secret stop at a South African naval base in December. The South African government has denied the Russian cargo ship's stop involved an official sale of weapons, though it has not categorically ruled out that an arms transaction took place. Ramaphosa has said an investigation was underway to determine if anyone loaded weapons onto the Russian-flagged Lady R cargo ship at the Simon's Town naval base near Cape Town.

Ramaphosa used his weekly message to the nation Monday to reaffirm South Africa's non-aligned stance with regard to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The president's statement was seen as a response to US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety, who questioned South Africa's neutrality while making the allegations about a weapons shipment. Ramaphosa added, "We have been firm on this point: South Africa has not been, and will not be, drawn into a contest between global powers." The AP independently verified that the cargo ship stopped at the South African naval base for at least three days in December, as Brigety claimed. A review of records shows that the Lady R is tied to a company that was sanctioned by the US for transporting weapons for the Russian government and aiding its war effort in Ukraine.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.