Sanctioned Russian Vessel Accused Of Transporting Illicit Weapons From South Africa

The US ambassador to South Africa has accused the nation of giving weapons to Russia in what would be a possible breach of SA’s declared neutrality in the invasion of Ukraine.

On May 11, Ambassador Reuben Brigety said the weapons had been loaded onto a Russian cargo vessel secretly docked at a naval base close to Cape Town for three days in December 2022. The weapons were later transported to Russia, per reports.

They are confident that the weapons were loaded onto the vessel. They would bet their life on the accuracy of that assertion, the ambassador mentioned during a briefing with reporters, per a video released by a local news channel.

US ambassador accuses South Africa of providing arms to Russia, Source: ITV News.

The arming of Russians is serious, and they do not consider the issue to be resolved and would like South Africa to start practising its nonalignment policy.

Vedant Patel, the State Department deputy spokesman, informed reporters that the US has rising concerns regarding the vessel’s docking, which is under US-imposed sanctions. Washington has also raised its concerns directly regarding the weapons with several South African officials.

Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s President, was in Cape Town responding to questions in the parliament when a lawmaker asked him to reply to Brigety’s allegations. The president said that the matter is being investigated and, in time, it can be commented on.

Ramaphosa’s office reportedly referred to the allegations as “disappointing”. It warned that these remarks undermine the spirit of partnership and cooperation between the US and South African government officials, particularly those discussing the matter.

The cargo vessel resulted in speculations as it docked in early December 2022 at the Simon’s Town naval base. Cargo ships dock at the civilian harbour of Cape Town routinely instead of the naval base.

Kobus Marais, the opposition member of parliament, demanded answers from the government at the time, mentioning that goods had been loaded and offloaded overnight. At the same time, the vessel was docked at the base.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added the cargo vessel, the Lady R, to its sanctions list in 2022 for shipment of alleged weapons.

References: CNN, Reu

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