The US has accused South Africa of supplying arms to Russia in a covert naval operation, sharply escalating a international coverage disaster for President Cyril Ramaphosa over the nation’s ties to the Kremlin and its place on the Ukraine battle.
Reuben Brigety, US ambassador to South Africa, informed native media on Thursday that the US believed weapons and ammunition had been loaded on to the Woman R, a Russian vessel below sanctions that docked at Simon’s City naval dockyard close to Cape City in December.
“Among the many issues we famous was the docking of the cargo ship . . . which we’re assured uploaded weapons and ammunition on to that vessel in Simon’s City because it made its approach again to Russia,” he stated, in feedback reported by South Africa’s News24.
“We’re assured that weapons had been loaded onto that vessel, and I might guess my life on the accuracy of that assertion,” he added.
The US embassy and South Africa’s international ministry didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
Ramaphosa informed lawmakers in South Africa’s parliament on Thursday that “the matter is being regarded into, and in time we can talk about it.” His workplace stated it might reply “in the end”.
John Steenhuisen, chief of South Africa’s foremost opposition Democratic Alliance, referred to as for an pressing parliamentary debate on South Africa’s involvement with Russia, and stated that the US declare “brings into query the transparency” of the ruling African Nationwide Congress.
The rand dropped 2 per cent to 19.2 to the US greenback on the experiences, its weakest stage since April 2020.
South Africa has stated it’s non-aligned within the battle, however Ramaphosa’s authorities is below stress over indicators it’s favouring Russia, for instance by holding joint naval workouts this 12 months.
Ramaphosa has additionally prolonged an invite for Russian president Vladimir Putin to attend a Brics leaders’ summit in Johannesburg in August — a transfer that has backfired on Pretoria after the Worldwide Legal Court docket indicted Putin for battle crimes. South Africa, a member of the ICC, could be legally obliged to arrest Putin if he travels there.
Sydney Mufamadi, Ramaphosa’s nationwide safety adviser, just lately visited the US to elucidate South Africa’s stance and to attempt to protect commerce hyperlinks.
The scandal over the Woman R is prone to overshadow these efforts.
The Woman R, which is owned by Transmorflot, an organization positioned below sanctions by the US final 12 months, appeared to change off its transponder because it made the cease in Cape City after a voyage down the west coast of Africa.
South Africa’s defence minister stated after the ship left port that it had delivered a consignment for the nation’s defence forces, however offered no particulars on what the vessel could have picked up in Cape City.
The South African authorities in January formally denied that it had accredited any arms gross sales from South Africa to Russia since Moscow started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Extra reporting by Mary McDougall in London