Active joint naval exercises between Russia, China, and South Africa begin today off South Africa’s eastern coast. The trilateral drills
Active joint naval exercises between Russia, China, and South Africa begin today off South Africa’s eastern coast.
The trilateral drills will feature exercises related to anti-piracy operations, disaster relief, and naval artillery training. Despite earlier reports, Russian naval officials confirmed there will be no testing of the Zircon hypersonic missile.
Western governments have criticized South Africa’s decision to host military drills with Russia at a time that coincides with the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. South Africa has defended the move, with President Cyril Ramaphosa citing the drills as a way to bolster the military’s ability to protect the country’s critical infrastructure. South Africa has refused to denounce Russian actions in Ukraine, and has repeatedly abstained on United Nations resolutions regarding the war.
South Africa will likely continue to maintain close military ties with Russia and China despite Western objections. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has deep historical links to Russia, stretching back to the Soviet Union’s backing of the ANC during the apartheid era. Pretoria also enjoys extensive economic ties with China, which is South Africa’s largest trading partner. Given these factors, it is probable that South Africa will be willing to pursue similar instances of military cooperation with Moscow and Beijing in the future against Western scrutiny.