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South Africa hits back as US Issues warning to countries arming Russia



The United States has sounded a warning that it would be wise for countries to step back from any kind of engagement with the Russian military.

That’s the view of the Head of the US Office of Sanctions Coordination Ambassador Jim O’Brien.

He was reacting to claims by the US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety that Pretoria had allowed weapons and ammunition transfers to Moscow via a Russian cargo ship that docked in Simonstown in early December last year.

O’Brien says they are working with G7 colleagues and other allied governments to communicate the importance of not supplying the Russian war machine.

“We are we are working with governments around the world to restrict access to to anything that will support the Russian military on the ground in Ukraine. I’m not going to discuss any specific possible punitive measures. I do think any country that reads the press can see that even the European Union is preparing to provide itself with additional tools to address actions by third countries. So it’s clear this is moving in the direction that, you know, I think it’d be wise of countries to to step back from any kind of engagement with the Russian military.”

Earlier on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament that the matter was being looked into. In other developments, the US says it will continue to engage governments around the world to support the UN Charter.

That view was expressed by US envoy to the United Nations and a member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet – Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

“We continue to certainly have a strong bilateral relationship with South Africa. We have worked over the course of the past two years to encourage all countries to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and not to give any support to those efforts. We will continue to have conversations along those lines with all countries here in New York to ensure that they take on the important position of supporting the UN Charter and supporting our commitment to not allowing one country to invade another country and compromise the territorial integrity of that country.”

But President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office hit back, saying it was “disappointing” that Brigety had “adopted a counter-productive public posture.”

The remarks “undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership” between the two nations, Ramaphosa’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya said in a statement.

“While no evidence has been provided to date to support these allegations, the government has undertaken to institute an independent enquiry to be led by a retired judge.”

South Africa has refused to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, which has largely isolated Moscow on the international stage.

The country — an African powerhouse that also wields moral clout for its victory over apartheid — says it wants to stay neutral, and champions dialogue as the means to end the conflict.

But critics cite a number of recent incidents as evidence of a tilt towards the Kremlin.

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