According to local media, the United States of America accused South Africa on Thursday of giving military support to Russia while declaring its neutrality in the conflict in the Ukraine.
Reuben Brigety, the ambassador, stated at a press conference that the US was “confident” that weapons and ammunition had been transferred onto a Russian freighter that had moored at a naval port in Cape Town in December.
Brigety was cited as saying, “The arming of the Russians is extremely serious, we do not consider this issue to be resolved, and we would like SA to [start] practicing its non-alignment policy.”
A source at the meeting verified the comments to AFP, but the US embassy did not immediately react to a request for comment.
South Africa has refused to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, which has largely isolated Moscow on the international stage.
The country — an African powerhouse that also wields moral clout for its victory over apartheid — says it wants to stay neutral, and champions dialogue as the means to end the conflict.
But earlier this year, it held a controversial joint military exercise with Russia and China, which critics cited as evidence of a tilt towards the Kremlin.
The ambassador appeared to refer to a previously known episode when the Lady R, a cargo vessel under western sanctions flying a Russian flag, docked at South Africa’s largest naval base.
“Among the things we noted was the docking of the cargo ship in the Simon’s Town naval base from 6th to 8th December 2022, which we are confident uploaded weapons and ammunition onto that vessel in Simon’s Town as it made its way back to Russia,” the envoy said.