Russia is developing military-technical cooperation with China and South Africa, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference following talks with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor on Monday.
“As for naval exercises [by Russia, South Africa and China], and to what extent they reflect the desire to develop military cooperation: we are developing military cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, and with the Republic of South Africa as well,” Lavrov said.
He recalled that trilateral exercises were not anything new.
“We have held such naval exercises with China and India, for example. They are anti-terrorist in the first place,” he pointed out.
Lavrov described as bewildering the reaction of the West, which often made a fuss about “something common in the practice of maritime powers.”
“Especially in a situation where the West conducts such exercises under openly aggressive scenarios far more often than our countries do,” he concluded.
Naval exercises involving ships from South Africa, Russia and China will be held from February 17 to February 27. As the South African Defense Ministry said in a communique on its website, the exercise will be held in the Indian Ocean for 10 days in the areas of the port city of Durban and Richards Bay “with the aim of sharing skills and operational knowledge.” According to the communique, the joint exercise is to “strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China.”
The first such trilateral exercise took place in November 2019 in the Cape Town area in the Atlantic Ocean, southwest of South Africa.