The Russian Embassy in South Africa has broken its silence on claims that it received weapons from South Africa, labelling the allegations an old tactic by the United States of America to push false narratives aimed at starting wars with foreign countries. In a statement released today, Russia accused Reuben Brigety, the US Ambassador to South Africa, of “fabricating weapons story” in a bid to sway the country’s foreign policy.
It said his unsubstantiated allegations were part of a plot to pressure South Africa to pick a side in the Ukraine-Russia war, and were being “coordinated with Western mainstream media”. The Russian Embassy said it was not surprised that the US would make such allegations without providing evidence. It said it was typical of the United States of America’s foreign policy to appoint “guilty parties at [their] own discretion” and resort to “megaphone diplomacy”.
“In this context, the words of the US’ official cannot be perceived otherwise than as an attempt to sway the independent sovereign state’s foreign policy. “This comes as no surprise, as the US seems to have lost its ability to interact with partners on [an] equal basis long ago. One’s friendship with the US is only possible under US rules,” said the Russian Embassy.
Last week Brigety grabbed international headlines when he publicly accused Pretoria of arming Moscow. Brigety had accused SA of “uploading” weapons and ammunition onto a Russian vessel which docked at Simon’s Town, Western Cape, in December for a joint military exercise between SA, China and Russia.
He had said they were “confident [SA] uploaded weapons, ammunitions onto that vessel as it made its way back to Russia”. Brigety said this suggested that “in practice the government of SA is not non-aligned” on the Ukraine war. He further maintained that the alleged weapons supply was a violation of SA’s neutral stance on the Ukraine war, as did articulations that BRICS was a “counter” to the G7.
In response, the Russian embassy said South Africa had become a target of Western media propaganda because it refused to choose a side in Russia’s war with Ukraine.
“Friends and partners note with concern that a campaign to pressure South Africa, obviously coordinated with Western mainstream media, is increasingly gaining momentum.
“The reason for that is the country’s non-aligned position with regard to the Ukraine conflict, which proves unsatisfactory for the United States. Yet ‘the world hegemon’ cannot punish South Africa for being ‘non-aligned.’
The Russias said in the statement that the weapons narrative against South Africa was akin to what happened in March 2003 before US-led forces invaded Iraq under the guise that they were looking for nuclear weapons.
“[The] docking of Lady R in Simon’s Town is being used as a pretext – totally fabricated and as false as the notorious tube presented by US’ State Secretary Colin Powell at the United Nations Security Council, which was followed by a full-scale invasion of Iraq and cost the lives of 1 million Iraqis – we hope it won’t come to that now,” said the embassy.
The Russians also shared the sentiments expressed by Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema at a media briefing yesterday that Russia did not need any arms from South Africa.
“If Ambassador Brigety takes this matter seriously then why doesn’t he explain why Russia would need SA-produced arms and ammunition matching neither the types nor the calibers of the systems currently in service with Russia’s armed forces and how such a minuscule amount of ‘arms and ammunition’ that was allegedly ‘uploaded onto the vessel’ would influence the situation on the battlefield anyway?”
The Russian Embassy further accused Brigety of hypocrisy, saying his country and its allies had been supplying weapons to Ukraine for years but had the audacity to accuse others of arming Russia.
“But what is more important – why does the US diplomat feel perfectly well about the fact that his country and its satellites have been delivering weapons to Ukraine since as long ago as 2014? The total amount of Western military supplies to the Kiev regime exceeded $100 billion by 2023 and a new batch for $1.2 billion was approved by Washington the other day,” said the embassy.
“Why doesn’t Ambassador Brigety say a word about these arms being used to attack cities in Donbass, as well as Bryansk and Belgorod regions of Russia daily? Why doesn’t he express concerns about these weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists in Europe and all around the world? There’s absolutely no contradiction here for US authorities, heavily dominated by double standards and hypocrisy,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed that South Africa would not be bullied by global powers to change its foreign policy. ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula told the media yesterday that his party would meet with Brigety over his allegations.
Dr Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations of Cooperation (DIRCO), said Brigety has apologised for violating protocol after she summoned him over his claims. US Embassy spokesperson David Feldman said they won’t be commenting on the Brigety issue further.