South Africa has been charged with providing weaponry to Russia despite declaring its neutrality in the conflict in Ukraine, according to the US ambassador there.

Reuben Brigety, the ambassador, told the local media that he was “confident” a Russian ship carrying guns and ammunition arrived in Cape Town in December.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa stated that the claims were being investigated by his administration.

Claims of neutrality in the invasion of Ukraine have been upheld by the nation.

At a media event on Thursday in Pretoria, Mr. Brigety claimed that Washington has reservations about the nation’s publicly stated non-alignment stance on the issue.

He referred to the arrival of a cargo ship in the Simon’s Town naval facility between 6 and 8 December last year which he was “confident” uploaded weapons and ammunition “as it made its way back to Russia”.

The presence of the ship, the Lady R, had seemed curious at the time and raised questions from some local politicians.

“The arming of the Russians is extremely serious, and we do not consider this issue to be resolved,” Mr Brigety said, in a damning accusation that seems to have caught South Africa’s officials off guard.

The US has been critical for months about South Africa’s continued cosy relationship with Russia.

It also expressed concerns about South Africa’s participation in military exercises with Russia and China during the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, Russian army tanks are loaded onto railway platforms to move back to their permanent base after drills in Russia. Russia says it is returning more troops and weapons to bases, but NATO says it sess no sign of a drawdown as fears that Moscow could invade Ukraine soon persist. Russia has massed about 150,000 troops east, north and south of Ukraine. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

The naval exercises took place over 10 days in February and were criticised by opposition figures as an endorsement of the Russian invasion.

The South African authorities denied the war games were provocatively timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary and said the country routinely hosts similar drills with other nations, including France and the US.

By gvoice

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