South Africa to Hold Joint Maritime Drills with Russia and China Amid Criticism

South Africa, which has avoided taking sides following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, announced on Thursday that it will hold joint maritime drills with Russia and China next month. The exercises, dubbed "Mosi" (translating to "smoke" in the local Tswana language), are scheduled for February 17 to 27, off the port city of Durban and Richards Bay. This will be the second such exercise involving the three naval forces, with the first being held in November 2019 off Cape Town. More than 350 South African army personnel will take part alongside their Russian and Chinese counterparts, with the aim of sharing operational skills and knowledge.

South Africa's Role in BRICS

  • This move comes as South Africa recently assumed the chairmanship of the BRICS, a grouping that also includes Brazil, Russia, India, and China, with the aim of challenging the dominant US and European-led global governance structures. As a continental powerhouse, South Africa has refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a war that has triggered sweeping Western sanctions.

Criticism from the Democratic Alliance (DA)

  • The joint manoeuvres, however, have sparked criticism from the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA). The party has labeled the exercises as "silly" being held at "an awkward time in global geopolitical history due to the Russian war in Ukraine."

The DA's shadow defence minister, Kobus Marais, has also claimed that the government is "biased" and that "it is obvious that the value for Russia is to showcase its geopolitical influence in southern Africa as part of their global war games against NATO and the USA."

Written by IAS POINT

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