The commander of the South African army's ground forces is on an official visit to Moscow, Russian news agencies said on Monday, after US accusations that Pretoria blamed arms deliveries to Russia.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, quoted by the TASS and Interfax agencies, Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha and his delegation discussed with their Russian colleagues "issues of military cooperation" aimed at "increasing the combat readiness of the armed forces of the two countries".
"During the meeting of military leaders, agreements were reached on strengthening cooperation between ground forces in various fields," the source added.
"During the visit, the delegation will visit military educational establishments of the Russian ground forces and enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex," the ministry said.
This visit comes in the midst of tensions between South Africa and the United States , which accuses Pretoria of having delivered arms to Russia, a country which has been leading a military offensive against Ukraine for more than a year.
After these accusations, which were made by the American ambassador in Pretoria, the South African government promised to carry out an investigation into these alleged deliveries. Contacted by AFP, the South African army did not respond immediately.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa assured him on Monday that his country would not be drawn into "a competition between world powers" over Ukraine and that it had been subject to "extraordinary pressure" to choose a side.
"We do not accept that our non-aligned position favors Russia over other countries. We also do not accept that it jeopardizes our relations with other countries," he said in a statement. the weekly presidential bulletin.
Mr. Ramaphosa spoke on the phone last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two leaders having shown their desire to “increase” their cooperation, according to the Kremlin.