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Ryan Robertson

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US ambassador: South Africa smuggled weapons to Russia

May 12, 2023

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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MediaMiss™This story is a Media Miss by the right as only 28% of the coverage is from right leaning media.

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The U.S. ambassador to South Africa said the country provided weapons and ammunition to Russia. If true, the transaction would be a violation of South Africa’s own laws.

In December, the Russian-owned ship Lady R was docked at the Simon’s Town Naval Base near Cape Town. U.S. Ambassador Reuben Brigety said the cargo ship was loaded with weapons and ammunition before leaving port. The Lady R returned to Russian ports in February. The company that owns the Lady R was previously sanctioned by the United States for transporting weapons for the Russian military.

It’s no secret ammunition supplies are a problem for Russia in Ukraine, and the ties between South Africa and Russia run deep. The accusation is raising eyebrows to say the least.

South Africa supposedly has a neutral stance when it comes to the war in Ukraine. Additionally, according to South Africa’s Arms Control Act, the country is prohibited from trading “conventional arms with states engaged in repression, aggression or terrorism.”

The South African government said Friday, May 12, it was investigating the matter, but that it had no record of any such arms sale. The government said if it did happen, the transaction was carried out covertly. Neither of those options make the South African government look good, though. Either the country doesn’t know what’s happening in its ports, or a darker scheme could be at play.

The ties between Russia and South Africa go back decades to when the Soviet Union supported the end of apartheid. Now, however, South Africa is more closely aligned with the West in terms of politics and human rights. Nostalgia and the reality of the present are causing a schism in South Africa, where protests against Vladimir Putin and Russian aggression are on the rise.

Putin is supposed to travel to South Africa in August for the BRICS summit. As a member of the International Criminal Court, South Africa would conceivably be forced to arrest Putin if he entered the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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THE U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA SAYS THE COUNTRY PROVIDED WEAPONS AND AMMUNITION TO RUSSIA. IF TRUE, THE TRANSACTION WOULD BE A VIOLATION OF SOUTH AFRICA’S OWN LAWS.

IN DECEMBER, THE RUSSIAN-OWNED SHIP LADY R WAS DOCKED AT THE SIMON’S TOWN NAVAL BASE NEAR CAPE TOWN. U.S. AMBASSADOR REUBEN BRIGETY SAID THE CARGO SHIP WAS LOADED WITH WEAPONS AND AMMUNITION BEFORE LEAVING PORT. THE LADY R RETURNED TO RUSSIAN PORTS IN FEBRUARY. THE COMPANY THAT OWNS THE LADY R WAS PREVIOUSLY SANCTIONED BY THE UNITED STATES FOR TRANSPORTING WEAPONS FOR THE RUSSIAN MILITARY.

IT’S NO SECRET AMMUNITION SUPPLIES ARE A PROBLEM FOR RUSSIA, AND THE TIES BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND RUSSIA RUN DEEP, SO THE ACCUSATION IS RAISING EYEBROWS TO SAY THE LEAST.

SOUTH AFRICA SUPPOSEDLY HAS A NEUTRAL STANCE WHEN IT COMES TO THE WAR IN UKRAINE. AND ACCORDING TO SOUTH AFRICA’S ARMS CONTROL ACT, THE COUNTRY IS PROHIBITED FROM TRADING “CONVENTIONAL ARMS WITH STATES ENGAGED IN REPRESSION, AGGRESSION OR TERRORISM”

THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT SAID FRIDAY IT WAS INVESTIGATING BUT THAT IT HAD NO RECORD OF ANY SUCH ARMS SALE. THE GOVERNMENT SAID IF IT DID HAPPEN, THE TRANSACTION WAS CARRIED OUT COVERTLY. NEITHER OF THOSE OPTIONS MAKE THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT LOOK GOOD, THOUGH. EITHER THE COUNTRY DOESN’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING IN ITS PORTS OR A DARKER SCHEME COULD BE AT PLAY.

THE TIES BETWEEN RUSSIA AND SOUTH AFRICA GO BACK DECADES TO WHEN THE SOVIET UNION SUPPORTED THE END OF APARTHEID. BUT NOW, SOUTH AFRICA IS MORE CLOSELY ALIGNED WITH THE WEST IN TERMS OF POLITICS AND HUMAN RIGHTS. NOSTALGIA FOR THE PAST AND THE REALITY OF THE PRESENT ARE CAUSING A SCHISM IN SOUTH AFRICA, WHERE PROTESTS AGAINST VLADIMIR PUTIN AND RUSSIAN AGGRESSION ARE ON THE RISE.

PUTIN IS SUPPOSED TO TRAVEL TO SOUTH AFRICA IN AUGUST FOR THE BRICS SUMMIT. AS A MEMBER OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT, SOUTH AFRICA WOULD CONCEIVABLY BE FORCED TO ARREST PUTIN IF HE ENTERED THE COUNTRY.

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