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US Pressures Africa Over Russia Relations, South African Defense Minister Says

© AFP 2023 / SERGEI CHIRIKOVSouth-Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) attend the first plenary session as part of the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, on October 24, 2019.
South-Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) attend the first plenary session as part of the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, on October 24, 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.01.2023
Since the beginning of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine to demilitarize and de-Nazify the country, the US - along with its European allies - has been trying to isolate Moscow in the international arena, while continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons worth tens of billions of dollars.
South Africa has slammed the US pressure campaign on African nations for maintaining a relationship with Russia.

Defense and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise is cited by the Wall Street Journal as saying that Washington “threatens Africa, not just South Africa, of having anything that is even smelling of Russia.”

The remarks came in the wake of western media reports speculating that an alleged Russia-flagged merchant ship delivered “unidentified” cargo to the Simon’s Town navy base, South Africa’s largest naval base, in late December 2022.
Senior US officials, also cited by the WSJ, said they were concerned about the absence of “publicly available information” on the load delivered by the US-sanctioned Lady R vessel, purportedly owned by Russian shipping company MG-FLOT LLC.

“Whatever contents this vessel was getting were ordered long before COVID,” said Modise in late December, as cited by the WSJ, adding that the US pressure on African countries maintaining good relations with Moscow is “unjustified”.

Russian officials, in turn, have repeatedly pointed out that the so-called collective West and the US in particular have been exerting pressure against African countries in a bid to dissuade them from cooperation with Russia.
According to Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador-at-Large Oleg Ozerov's May statement, the West has been pressuring African countries "to close any opportunities for developing economic relations with us."
At the same time, Ozerov pointed out that despite western pressure, half of the African countries refuse to condemn Russia's special military operation in Ukraine and do not want to impose anti-Russian sanctions.
Moreover, Russian Ambassador to Angola Vladimir Tararov, while speaking with Sputnik earlier this year, revealed that Angola was "under extreme pressure from the western countries, who call on them to condemn Russia."
The ambassador noted at the time that the West often resorts to threats and blackmail.

"They are just threatening, blackmailing. This blackmail, I emphasize once again, is immoral. The countries [of Africa] are barely standing their ground to resist. Note that when voting was underway for the anti-Russian resolution at the [UN] General Assembly, almost all African countries voted neutrally, that is, they abstained. This means they did not support this resolution. But they did not dare to vote against it, because the pressure was extreme," Tararov explained.

The western anti-Russian campaign comes amid the ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, which Moscow kicked off on February 24. Since, the US - along with its western allies - has been trying to isolate Russia in the international arena, in particular in Africa, where, it appears, the former has started losing its ground.
Earlier this week, Eritrean Ambassador to Russia Petros Tseggai revealed that France and other western countries are losing their influence in Africa. According to him, “another world” is being built, and Africans can “breathe freely,” gaining full independence from US and French influence.
A late-December report in The Times shared the same point of view expressed by Tseggai. The London-based paper noted that a new battle for Africa “may already be lost” in the wake of Russia's and China's expanding presence on the continent.
“Increasing Russian influence highlights the shifting relationships in the world’s fastest-growing continent. In recent years, the US and the former colonial powers of Britain and France have lost ground to China, Russia and smaller players such as Turkey and the Gulf states,” the paper wrote.
Last November, in the wake of a wave of anti-French protests that swept Africa's Sahel region as Paris began withdrawing its troops after experiencing military setbacks in countering security threats in that region, France’s President Emmanuel Macron admitted that the French influence in the region has diminished. He also accused Moscow of pursuing a “predatory project” on the African continent.
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