Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Inquiry rejects US claims that South Africa supplied arms to Russia

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An investigation in South Africa has rejected a US allegation that the nation equipped weapons to a Russian ship underneath US sanctions that was docked at a Cape City naval base, after the accusation imperilled ties between the US and Africa’s most industrial financial system.

President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned on Sunday an inquiry “discovered that there was no proof to assist the declare that the ship transported weapons from South Africa destined for Russia” as alleged by the US ambassador to Pretoria this 12 months.

“When all issues are thought-about, not one of the allegations made in regards to the provide of weapons to Russia have been confirmed to be true,” he mentioned. “Not one of the individuals who made these allegations may present any proof to assist the claims.”

The Woman R, a vessel owned by Russia’s MG-FLOT, docked on the Simon’s City base in mysterious circumstances in December, together with showing to modify off its transponder sign. South Africa’s defence ministry mentioned on the time the ship had carried a supply for the nation’s armed forces.

Ambassador Reuben Brigety claimed in Could that the US authorities was assured the vessel additionally “uploaded weapons and ammunition” in Cape City on its means again to Russia, regardless of no official approval by South Africa’s authorities for arms exports to Russia or Ukraine for the reason that conflict started.

The allegation unleashed a diplomatic storm for Ramaphosa’s authorities, which has mentioned it’s non-aligned over the conflict in Ukraine, and shook South Africa’s monetary markets as commerce ties connecting key South African export industries to the US out of the blue fell unsure.

“The allegations levelled in opposition to our nation had a harmful impact on our forex, financial system and our standing on this planet,” Ramaphosa mentioned on Sunday.

Brigety and the US authorities didn’t element proof for the accusation, however Ramaphosa’s authorities was additionally unable to disclaim it outright, resulting in the appointment of an inquiry headed by a retired decide to analyze.

The declare got here after rising frustration in Washington over South Africa’s ties to Russia, akin to joint naval workouts on the anniversary of the conflict and what was seen as Pretoria’s equivocation in condemning the invasion.

However the Biden administration has since moved to clean relations with the largest US buying and selling companion in Africa, considered one of numerous non-aligned nations that Washington has sought to foyer over the conflict with a purpose to problem Russia’s narrative of the battle.

The US state division mentioned on Sunday it appreciated “the seriousness” of the inquiry panel’s investigation into the Woman R. The state division added it had been “in direct communication” with Ramaphosa’s authorities and would proceed the conversations by way of diplomatic channels.

“We respect President Ramaphosa’s dedication to investigating this critical matter and look ahead to advancing progress with our South African companions on our shared priorities, together with commerce, well being, and local weather,” the state division mentioned.

Ramaphosa has additionally despatched ministers and advisers to Capitol Hill in an effort to cease commerce preferences favouring South Africa’s entry to US markets from being withdrawn. He has since performed a larger position in African diplomacy over the conflict, making visits to Kyiv and Moscow.

Ramaphosa mentioned on Sunday the inquiry into the Woman R confirmed that the vessel had equipped materiel to South Africa’s armed forces. The inquiry’s full report wouldn’t be printed due to a necessity for army safety over the supply, however an govt abstract could be launched on Monday, he mentioned.

The inquiry had visited the naval base, heard from nearly 50 individuals and reviewed greater than 100 paperwork, Ramaphosa mentioned.

The US embassy in Pretoria didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The US positioned sanctions on MG-FLOT close to the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine final 12 months, over what it mentioned was using the corporate’s delivery to move weapons for the Russian authorities.

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