Admiral John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, has called reports that a Russian ship had transported weapons to Russia from a South African port in December a “serious matter”.
He told Sky News: “We’ve consistently and strongly encouraged countries to not provide any support to Russia’s conflict.
“We do not believe anyone should make it easier for Mr Putin, to kill innocent Ukrainians.
“We have had many conversations with different countries at various levels about these concerns. But I won’t get into the diplomatic discussions themselves.”
It’s a very serious matter.
The ambassador of the United States to South Africa, said on Thursday he believed that a Russian ship, Lady R, picked up weapons last year in the country, which would be a violation of Pretoria’s declared neutrality.
Ambassador Rueben Britety, speaking to journalists in South Africa, said: “We’re confident that weapons loaded onto that vessel. I’d bet my life that this assertion is accurate.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa responded by saying that his government will open an investigation.
The president stated that the matter was being investigated and we would be able to talk about it in due time.
Both President Ramaphosa, and President Putin have spoken by phone. The Kremlin claims that the South Africans initiated the call.
According to a short summary of the phone call released by the Kremlin the two “expressed the intention to intensify mutually advantageous ties in different fields”.
According to the Kremlin Mr Putin told Ramaphosa, Moscow never rejected the “diplomatic route” in resolving conflict in Ukraine.
Kremlin officials confirmed that President Putin supports President Ramaphosa’s peace proposal which involves African leaders as part of an initiative to bring peace.
Summit in August
Both Russia and South Africa belong to the BRICS group, which also includes Brazil, India and China.
The next BRICS Summit will be held on 15 August in Durban, South Africa. It is unclear if President Putin would defy the sanctions on his travel in order to attend this summit.
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South Africa accused by Russia of providing arms
The West’s relationship to ever-wealthy Developing Countries
In recent years, both Russia and China have focused a lot of attention on Africa. China has an important economic footprint across Africa.
Joe Biden, the US president, has yet to visit Africa. His administration is accused of neglecting Africa.
Geopolitically, the result has been that many African countries have shifted their focus towards Beijing and Moscow.
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During the phone call between Putin and Ramaphosa, the Russian President repeated his offer to provide Russian grain and fertilizers to African countries for free.
Admiral Kirby refused to comment further at the White House on the Lady R cargo vessel issue, but said: “No nation should look for ways to help Mr Putin kill the Ukrainians, they (Russia) are the aggressor.
They need to leave. They shouldn’t have been there to begin with.
Nobody should look for ways to make this war easier. Just let it be.