South Africa: naval maneuvers with the Russian friends – politics

On one side of the chimney the sailors of the Admiral Gorschkow A “Z” painted and a “V” on the other, the two Russian symbols for the victory in Ukraine promised by the propaganda: The Russian frigate is currently far from home, in the port of the South African coastal town of Richards Bay.

The place was previously known primarily for its good surfing spots. Now the Russian Navy can demonstrate its most modern weapons here and prove that there are still countries that stand by their side – or at least make an appointment with them for sea maneuvers. “Mosi”, meaning smoke, is the name of the exercise in South Africa, in which the maneuvers at sea began on Wednesday: Actions against sea pirates are to be rehearsed.

South Africa’s navy is largely out of action

They haven’t been seen here at the Cape of Africa for a long time, but that’s probably not the point. “I’m really proud that we have excellent diplomatic relations with your country, which we regard as a valued partner,” said South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor during a visit by her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov a few days ago. She also said calls to condemn Russia’s war of aggression were “infantile.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa stopped by the port on Tuesday, and South African General Andries Mahapa provided information about the maneuver on Wednesday: “Remember that in peacetime we have to prepare for war,” he said, which caused irritation in South Africa, because so far little is known of an immediate danger of war.

In addition, every South African knows that the country’s navy is largely out of action. Of the four frigates and three submarines purchased after the end of apartheid, none are said to be in working condition. While Russia and China have arrived with the most modern material, South Africa can only muster a patrol boat and a supply ship. The Russians originally wanted their new ones Zircon-Hypersonic missiles from the Admiral Gorschkow fire, the TASS news agency reported. Apparently that was too much for the host.

Direct flight to Moscow instead of duty-free with the USA?

On the one hand, the government is trying to present the maneuver as a normal matter: South Africa is part of the Brics community of states along with Russia and China. There are also similar exercises with Europe and the USA. One is independent and does not belong to either bloc, said Foreign Minister Pandor, who at the same time makes no secret of her contempt for the “imperialist” West. According to a report by Economist She is said to have told EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell that the West could not teach South Africa lessons because it had never given the ANC weapons. However, money and training came from the Soviet Union – the fact that Ukraine was also part of the USSR at the time is often forgotten.

International criticism of South Africa’s increasingly clear pro-Russian stance has so far been limited. But that could also change. According to a report by New York Times Should individual US senators consider removing the country from the list of African countries that are allowed to import their goods duty-free into the US – that would be a massive blow to the Cape automakers, who mainly export to the US. The United States is particularly upset that a sanctioned Russian merchant ship was allowed to dock in South Africa. The ship is said to have unloaded weapons there and possibly also taken on board new cargo.

A few days ago, the state-owned South African airport operator announced that they were currently working on enabling Russian aircraft to be refueled in the country. Because of international sanctions, private fueling companies are currently refusing to refuel Russian jets. The state now wants to do it itself. Even that will not improve relations with Europe and the USA – by far the largest trading partners. According to the ANC government, it is already working on anti-imperialist alternatives: a direct flight is to be set up from Moscow to Cape Town.