South Africa's foreign minister is acting baffled as to why her country would be criticized for planning a joint military exercise with Russia and China next month. South Africa has refused to condemn Russia's aggression in Ukraine, choosing instead to portray itself as neutral. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently met with South African Presidentand Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor in Pretoria, and Lavrov and Pandor described each other as "a friend." The joint exercises will be held over the one-year anniversary of the launch of Russia's ongoing attack on Ukraine. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited South Africa the day after Lavrov's visit.
"Lavrov Visit to South Africa: Pandor Defends Joint Russia-China Military Exercise" - BBC
"South Africa's leaders have a connection to Russian dating back to the fight against white-minority rule, or apartheid, when some members of the country's liberation movement received military training in Russia. In recent years that relationship has grown into business ties through the Brics bloc of emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa."
"U.S. 'Concerned' as South Africa to Hold War Games with Russia, China on Ukraine Invasion Anniversary" - CBS
"'We are concerned about South Africa's plan to hold joint naval exercises with Russia and the PRC in February, even as Moscow continues its brutal and unlawful war of aggression against Ukraine,' David Feldmann, spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, told CBS News in response to the remarks by the senior South African and Russian diplomats."
"Why South Africa Continues to Be Neutral in Ukraine-Russia War" - Al Jazeera
"Pretoria and Moscow have long historical ties dating back to the times of white minority rule in South Africa. South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) has longstanding relations with Moscow forged during the liberation struggle against apartheid. Many of the ANC leaders were educated or received military training in the Soviet Union. Some, like the late Eric “Stalin” Mtshali, have Russian nicknames thanks to their connections to Moscow. The Soviet Union backed the liberation movement with arms and money."