By John Ikani
South Africa has defended its decision to hold a joint military exercise with Russia and China next month, amidst growing criticism and concerns.
The 10-day drills, set to take place in the port cities of Durban and Richards Bay, from 17 February to 27 February, will involve the sharing of operational skills and knowledge between the three nations.
Speaking at a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Pretoria, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor condemmned the “double-standard” that allows some nations to perform such exercises while others are not.
“All countries conduct military exercises with friends worldwide,” Pandor stated.
The Ministry of Defence has also defended the planned exercises, citing that South Africa has in the past hosted similar exercises with France, the US, and countries from the Western Nato military alliance.
It is worthwhile to note that South Africa has remained neutral in ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict despite pressure from Western countries to condemn the Russian invasion.
Officials in South Africa have repeatedly said they do not condone the invasion but will not be forced into choosing sides and are continuing to engage with both countries in a business-as-usual manner.