Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Is Russia buying weapons from South Africa?


I noted with interest a Wall Street Journal report that a Russian vessel recently spent a couple of days loading cargo at Simonstown, the premier naval port in South Africa.

A Russian merchant ship whose owner has allegedly carried weapons for the Kremlin turned off its transponder last month before surreptitiously docking at South Africa’s largest naval base, where it delivered and loaded unidentified cargoes, according to witnesses and a senior U.S. official.

South Africa has declined to say what the ship was carrying or what was loaded onto it at the Simon’s Town navy base. The country’s defense minister shrugged off U.S. concerns, saying Washington “threatens Africa, not just South Africa, of having anything that is even smelling of Russia.”

. . .

A senior U.S. official said Washington was concerned by the support the South African armed forces provided to the Lady R, including allowing it to enter and move cargo at a naval base while its automatic identification system was switched off.

For two nights, during which Simon’s Town was plunged into darkness by nationwide power cuts, a mobile crane moved crates off and onto the 122-meter-long vessel under the watch of armed guards, according to witnesses and photos viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“There is no publicly available information on the source of the containers that were loaded onto the Lady R,” the U.S. official said.

The Lady R left Simon’s Town the morning of Dec. 9. ... Since mid-December, the vessel has been anchored off the coast of Mozambique, where it pulled into the port of Beira over the weekend, according to ship-tracking services, which give its destination as Istanbul. From Istanbul, it is a relatively short trip to Russian Black Sea ports.

There's more at the link.

South Africa used to have a large and sophisticated armaments industry, right through the 1990's.  However, it's fallen into decline since then, and today is not a major factor in the world's arms trade.  I'm not sure it would have much in the way of hi-tech equipment that Russia could use;  its indigenous anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles are very different from their Russian equivalents, and it would take considerable effort to train Russian personnel to operate them.  However, South Africa could probably provide artillery and mortar ammunition, and possibly also locally manufactured equivalents of old-model Soviet equipment.

Given that Russia is reportedly buying hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition from North Korea, it might well have extended its purchasing network to South Africa as well.  Also, given that South Africa is part of the BRICS partnership (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), it would probably be willing to sell military hardware to Russia, perhaps in exchange for things South Africa needs.

I'll be watching to see whether such semi-clandestine port visits continue.



Mind your own business said...

I find it somewhat heartening that the rest of the world actually seems to be resisting the interference of the US Neocons, who seem to want to dictate to everyone. US foreign policy went off the rails a couple of decades ago, after their brakes went out on Vietnam. They've been trying to regain some prestige ever since, at the cost of wasting American lives and money in places we have no business getting into.

Francis Turner said...

The Russians do seem to be running out of ammo. And they certainly have trouble making it themselves in large enough quantities so if SA can make (or has on hand) quantities of soviet caliber rounds O can well imagine them being bought by Russia at good prices. I suspect the SA ammo would be slightly higher quality than the Nork ammo, though perhaps I'm wrong there.

Talking of the latter I am amazed that none of it appears to have exploded prematurely on the trans-siberian railroad. If I were Ukraine that would be a definite target for a "smoking accident"

Bob said...

What "mind your own business" said.

The sooner we rid ourselves of all these "dual citizenship" non-Americans the better.

Jonathan H said...

I can think of a number of items that SA makes or mines that Russia could be interested in; the common thread is that all of them are things that Russia theoretically is self sufficient in, so getting them from SA would be a sign of weakness..
Beyond arms, the list includes gold, alloying elements, diamonds, platinum group metals, and more. The commonality is they are all things that are critical in (relatively) small quantities.

Rob said...

Bricks, I was wondering how big it really was in comparison to the world as it is today.
I looked it up.. It surprised me


US stats
332m people
$23.32 trillion USD gdp
$70,248.6 USD per capita
Bricks stats
3.833b people
$25.872 trillion USD gdp
$39,636 USD per capita
EU stats
447.2m people
$17.18 trillion USD gdp
$38,411 USD per capita

BRICS partnership (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa),

217m people
$1.894 trillion USD gdp
$8,857 USD per inhabitant.

146m people
$1.77 trillion USD gdp
$10,216.25 USD per capita

1.41b people
$3.469 trillion USD gdp
$2,320.40 USD per capita

1.45b people
$18.32 trillion USD gdp
$11,188.30 USD per capita

South Africa-
61m people
$419b USD gdp
$7,055 USD gdp per capita

MNW said...

A large percentage of the world is fed up with US interferanace an coursion.

I think a great number of people in State, various think tanks, the DoD, etc will be surpised when they either dont help or are activle hostile to NeoCon moves or move to join BRICS

Aesop said...

But the World's Foremost Expert, and the Leading Authority On Drones In The Western Hemisphere, has assured us that Russia is WINNING! Already won, in fact. Any minute now victory will be declared. Any minute!!

What need should they have for arms, were that fairytale true?

Cue crickets chirping.

Like the Queen Of Spades, some people can believe six impossible things before breakfast.

Michael said...

Aesop did you happen to forget the US isn't making 155mm shells anymore?

We buy them from South Korea.

Nor can we build new heavy armored vehicles aka Tanks and APC's.

Snip M1 Abrams It entered service with US Army in 1986. Production ended in 1992

Noting like outsourcing your military, along with the Chinese rare earths for every major military weapon system we have (to include fighters like the F35 Super bird)

When the Russian Artillery falls silent, I'll bow to your awesome understanding of everything in the known world to include successful marriage.

RSR said...

Lima OH tank plant produces a dozen tanks per month.

And US military is restarting mothballed WW2 ammo factories.

RSR said...

Any chance SA has any captured soviet munitions or other armaments from the 70s/80s they'd be willing to sell?

Or perhaps they're providing raw materials/metals, etc. in exchange for some Russian goods or armaments.

Michael said...

RSR posted: Lima OH tank plant produces a dozen tanks per month.

Not quite true given the current price for a M1 Abrams base model without current upgrades is over 10 million each the millions allocated to the plant (even if the workers and plant cost nothing) is more in the order of this snip:

In late 2016, tank production and refurbishment had fallen to a rate of one per month with less than 100 workers on site. In 2017, the Trump administration ordered military production to increase, including Abrams production and employment. In 2018, it was reported that the Army had ordered 135 tanks re-built to new standards, with employment at over 500 workers and expected to rise to 1,000.[66]

REBUILDING isn't building new ones. I'm looking for the link about how we forced retired due to COVID Jab refusals the older employees that ran the massive castings section for turrets and hulls.

And US military is restarting mothballed WW2 ammo factories.

Please post links of this as the EPA regulations that closed them down are not rescinded. America doesn't like dirty factories it seems.

RSR said...

Ammo plants, including updating mothballed plants:

Poland just placed an order for 250 new Abrams tanks from the Lima plant this year, >10% to deliver in first year:

Michael said...

Thank you RSR for the links, interesting but future PLANS do not a motivated and skilled workforce make.

The military plans, CONgress promises, SOMETIMES actually Funds and I wait to see what really comes of the efforts as we've lost the older generation of CAN DO workers to age and lack of respect for the trade of building war machines.

Look around, respect for military service is lacking as our recruitment is so poor that we've again lowered standards and *Still* cannot get enough folks to enlist as our solid conservative soldiers fail to reenlist, preferring not to live under critical race theory that calls most of them racist and subhuman.

The chimpanzees running the show are more worried about using the "Right Pronouns", Diversity and Macroaggressions than getting real work done.

My interest in History has sown the Poles often on the wrong side of History as their country has been used as a door mat for armies for centuries. They are apt to find themselves used up like the Kurds by the USA to be ignored when their "Services" are not useful, again like the Kurds.