HomeWorld NewsUS ambassador apologises to South Africa for Russian arms supply allegation

US ambassador apologises to South Africa for Russian arms supply allegation

Reuben Brigety, speaks to journalists in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2010. —AFP

The US ambassador to South Africa has issued a comprehensive apology to the country for his previous unfounded allegation that South Africa had engaged in arms sales to Russia. 

Reuben Brigety’s claim, made on Thursday, asserted that a Russian vessel was loaded with ammunition and weapons in Cape Town in December. South Africa promptly denied any knowledge of such a transaction, prompting President Cyril Ramaphosa to initiate an inquiry into the matter. 

While the White House national security spokesman acknowledged the gravity of the situation, specific details regarding the allegations were not disclosed.

Following a meeting with the South African foreign ministry, Reuben Brigety expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to rectify any misunderstandings arising from his public statements. He reiterated the strong partnership between the United States and South Africa, emphasizing the important agenda set by their respective presidents. In response to the allegations, a South African cabinet minister criticized what she described as “megaphone diplomacy” and emphasized that South Africa should not be coerced by the United States, especially considering that it is the US that has imposed sanctions on Russia.

The incident originated from the docking of a Russian vessel named Lady R near Cape Town in December. This event raised questions among local politicians as to whether the ship had been supplied with arms before returning to Russia. If the allegations were proven true, South Africa’s compliance with its own Arms Control Act, which prohibits the trade of conventional weapons with repressive or aggressive states, would be called into question. South Africa identifies itself as a responsible member of the international community and has adopted a non-aligned stance by abstaining from certain UN votes related to the Ukraine conflict.

Although the ruling African National Congress (ANC) maintains historical ties with Russia due to the support received during the struggle against white-minority rule, many within present-day South Africa are beginning to question the relevance and benefits of this relationship. Experts highlight the stronger commonalities and larger trade relationships that South Africa shares with the West. Concerns are growing about the potential economic repercussions if relations with the United States further deteriorate. The recent accusations by the US ambassador have added pressure to an already strained South African economy, which has been grappling with power shortages and a devalued currency.

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