South Africa Joint naval exercises begin He met with Russia and China on Friday, sparking international backlash along with questions over loyalty to Western allies.
A year after Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine, the 10-day military drills signify more than ambivalent attitudes to the war, and show that Washington’s attempts to court South Africa are failing. suggesting.
“South Africa has a real desire to create a multipolar world and a real sense that the world is being wronged by either a bipolar world or a unipolar world,” said the Africa Programme. Senior Associate Cameron Hudson said. He told Fox News Digital at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Hudson explained that the policy means South Africa will choose to work with the most suitable countries, including the United States, Russia and China, despite hostile differences.
“In a multipolar world, all partners are valid partners.
US-Africa summit: Washington ‘catch-up’ with Russia and China
The war in Ukraine prompted the West to draw geopolitical lines and called on countries around the world to condemn the war.
But South Africa last year was one of 35 countries to abstain from a UN vote condemning the war in Ukraine, deciding to take a neutral stance.
Secretary of State Antony Brinken had a phone call with his South African counterparts earlier this week, and they reportedly discussed the upcoming anniversary and Minister Naledi Pandor’s support for a peaceful resolution to the war.
However, the document did not include any mention of joint exercises with America’s biggest enemies, China and Russia. vie for greater influence On the African continent as relations with the West become increasingly strained.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, a State Department spokesman said Friday that the State Department noted with “concern” South Africa’s decision to hold joint exercises with Russia and China.
“We encourage South Africa to cooperate militarily with fellow democracies that share a common commitment to human rights and the rule of law,” the spokesperson added.
But Hudson argued that Washington’s private or public lobbying efforts to discourage ties with key adversaries could only further complicate the situation.
“South Africa does not have a unique position among Africans,” Hudson said. We want to be defined as such and not pressured.”
For years, China has expanded across the continent by adopting various lending programs, often resulting in Beijing’s growing influence as a poor country. struggle to repay loan promises – A scheme that has been viewed as “debt trap diplomacy”.
But Russia’s growing interest in the African continent has worried Western officials.
Blinken dives into the African ‘superpower’ battlefield
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has already visited the continent twice this year alone, including South Africa in January.
Earlier this month, he declared that Western powers had failed to cut Moscow off from Africa after a second visit.
Blinken traveled to South Africa In August, I defended the end of apartheid and met with Pandor for a joint press conference.
However, Blinken’s reception by the South African government did not seem as warmly received as Lavrov’s visit earlier this month. criticized. [of] As for the war in Ukraine, I patronized bullying.
“It’s a little ironic that while South Africa has some kind of rail against the West, it’s historically allied with bad actors for that kind of hegemony,” Hudson said. He added that the exercise, which started on Friday, was just the latest “denial of everything.” It’s the courtship that the Biden administration has been doing in South Africa. ”
Over the past 20 years, the United States has Provided more than $7 billion in AIDS relief This does not include the millions of dollars in humanitarian aid that Washington continues to provide each year.
It’s unclear how much aid Russia and China give South Africa each year, but Hudson explained that this is at the heart of Washington’s plight in Africa.
“We see our relationship with South Africa and Africa as a kind of aid dependency, not an equal relationship,” he said. “It’s a donor-recipient relationship.
“Russia and China are on equal footing,” he added. “They’re not sending aid to these countries. They’re doing business deals, they’re making security deals, they’re making investments, they’re doing politics in a way that none of us in the United States have. We are building an alliance.”
Russia’s close ties with South Africa date back to the days of apartheid, when Moscow supported the African National Congress (ANC) in its fight against repressive governments.
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The United States’ support for the South African government in the early days of apartheid in the late 1940s was largely due to the government’s support for anti-communist ideals. This was a very important topic for Washington when the Cold War between the United States and Russia began.
The United States eventually imposed sanctions on the South African government in favor of ending apartheid in 1986, but Russian officials and informal financial assistance The ANC reportedly continued for decades after apartheid ended.
Russia has also made efforts to renew diplomatic relations with South Africa in the face of Western isolation.
“South Africa is going to eat and eat cake,” Hudson explained. “They’re going to get humanitarian aid from us. They’re going to get investment from China. I intend to receive energy deals.
“They want a multilateral world, so there are no internal conflicts,” he added. “The question is, is Washington willing to accept it?
“The bottom line is that if Washington is unwilling to accept it, it will be cut off from South Africa,” Hudson said.
The South African Embassy in Washington, DC did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.