South Africa, which has always refused to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, announced Thursday the organization in February of joint maneuvers with the Russian and Chinese navies off its coast.
"South Africa will host the Chinese and Russian Federation navies in a multilateral maritime exercise between February 17 and 27," the South African military confirmed in a statement.
"In order to strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China," the joint maneuvers will take place off Durban, the largest port in southern Africa, and Richards Bay some 180 km further north, the statement said.
"This will be the second time that such an exercise is held in the presence of the three naval forces, the first having taken place in November 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa," recalls the army.
These maneuvers will involve more than 350 South African military personnel "from several services and divisions" alongside "their Russian and Chinese counterparts with the aim of sharing skills and operational knowledge," the statement further said.
South Africa, one of the continent's powers, has taken a neutral stance since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, refusing to join Western calls to condemn Moscow.
Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Alliance has slammed the decision, saying it means that contrary to its "neutral" stance on Russia’s Ukraine war, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party has effectively sided with Moscow.
The China-Russia-South Africa drills is named Operation Mosi, which means smoke.