Lazy eyes listen
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that relations between Washington and Pretoria have deteriorated since a Russian cargo ship visited South Africa’s largest naval base last month. According to the outlet, the country’s defense minister stated that the US has been pressuring African nations over any links with Moscow.
A senior US official told the WSJ that Washington is “concerned by the support the South African Armed Forces provided to the ‘Lady R,'” referring to a Russian vessel sanctioned in May for alleged involvement in arms shipments for Moscow.
According to the report, the ship was allowed to enter Simon’s Town navy base with its transponders turned off and freely move cargo there in early December. “There is no publicly available information on the origin of the containers loaded onto the ‘Lady R,'” said the official.
The outlet cited comments made by South African Defense Minister Thandi Modise last month about ‘Lady R’s’ visit. She refused to reveal the ship’s cargo, only saying that “whatever contents this vessel was getting were ordered long before Covid,” which debuted in late 2019.
Washington “threatens Africa, not just South Africa,” according to Modise, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
According to the article, under US law, Washington has the authority to sanction any entity that provides services to a black-listed ship.
According to Darren Olivier, the head of the African Defense Review consulting firm, the ‘Lady R’ could be bringing an old order of Russian ammunition to South Africa. According to him, Moscow and Pretoria agreed to ship 4.5 million rounds of Russian ammunition worth approximately $585,000 in 2020.
Concerning the cargo on board, Olivier stated that “South Africa’s defense industry does not generally produce armaments and complete systems that are used by the Russian military.” However, he stated that Moscow may be interested in dual-use items such as aerial drone guidance systems and optics.
According to a senior US official who spoke to the WSJ, the US embassy warned Pretoria in November that a sanctioned vessel was on its way, but South African authorities did not respond. According to the article, the events surrounding ‘Lady R’ demonstrate the “difficulty” of imposing sanctions on Russia for the US and its allies.