South Africa is hosting a series of naval war games to strengthen diplomatic ties with China and Russia.
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The multinational maritime exercise, named Exercise Mosi, will take place in Durban and Richard Bay of the KwaZulu-Natal province from 17 to 27 February.
Planning conferences were held to organise the outing in December 2022 and a previous exercise between the countries was held in Cape Town in November 2019.
“This year’s Exercise Mosi will see over 350 SANDF personnel from various arms of services and divisions participating alongside the Russian and Chinese counterparts with an aim of sharing operational skills and knowledge,” said a statement from the South Africa National Defence Force.
“Exercise Mosi will be conducted in the southern oceans over the said period, it will coincide with the Armed Forces Day celebration that will take place at uMhlathuze Municipality in Richards Bay, east of KwaZulu-Natal province.
South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, speaking to SA Government News Agency, said the exercise will strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China.
“The envisaged exercise will benefit all countries involved through interoperability of the naval systems, joint disaster systems management enhancement, maritime cooperation and anti-piracy exercises,” she said.
South Africa is part of a bilateral BRICS agreement with Brazil, Russia and China. The country also has engagements with the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
“We also enjoy defence diplomatic relations with several countries across all the continents of the world since we have become an integral part of the community of nations and no longer a pariah state,” she said.
“There was no hype about any of these countries, especially about the USA wherein we held an even longer exercise, known as Exercise Shared Accord in KwaZulu-Natal last year regarding our military health capabilities.
“We wish to state categorically that South Africa, like any independent and sovereign state, has a right to conduct its foreign relations in line with its diplomatic relations and national interests.
“Contrary to the assertions by our critics, South Africa is not abandoning its neutral position on the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
“We remain firm in our view that multilateralism and dialogue are keys to unlocking sustainable international peace. We continue to urge both parties to engage in dialogue as a solution to the current conflict.”
The event will also mark a full year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine which occurred on 24 February 2022. South Africa was one of 35 countries at the United Nations which abstained from voting to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022.