Oct 16 2008

Russia, SA tighten military cooperation

Published by at 1:19 pm under Opinion,Top Stories

The Russian news and information agency Novosti recently reported on plans for Russian-South African military cooperation. The list of projects makes for interesting reading. 

At the time of the major weapons exhibition at Ysterplaat Airforce Base in Cape Town (17-21 September), this article was published by Novosti.

Towards the end of the article, you’ll find this interesting bit (I edited slightly):

Russia and South Africa are moving to implement several attractive projects, eg. 

* unmanned aerial vehicles are to be equipped with small Russian engines; 

* a regional center is planned to service and repair Russian aircraft;

* a small-scale radar system will be developed for the South African Armed Forces;

* plans are afoot to cooperate (with the sale of weapons) to third parties;

* South African officers will be trained at Russian military academies;

* Russia and SA will jointly tender for a new South African battle tank;

* the countries will cooperate in the sphere of space exploration (wow!);

* Russian specialists are ready to help with peace-keeping operations in African states.

All of this, at a time when relations between the EU and Russia is “cool”, if not “frosty”, following the Georgia invasion by Russia. 

Maybe, one should take the wider perspective and say military cooperation between Russia and South Africa is nothing new. For instance, in 2002 a Russia-SA commission for military-technical cooperation was established; in November 2005 representatives of national defense industries held a joint seminar and in 2006 the two countries signed an inter-governmental agreement on copyright protection during their military-technical cooperation.

Still, the news that Russia is ready to send its military to Africa to help with “peace-keeping” can hardly be called positive news.

Tip: Keep your eye on Novosti for that “alternative view”. You could also call it “looking at the world through Putin-coloured sunglasses”. If you think I’m just being naughty, look here for a list of “Novosti clients”. It includes “the presidential administration, Russian government, Federation Council, State Duma, leading ministries and government departments, administrations of Federation subjects, representatives of Russian and foreign business communities, diplomatic missions and public organizations”. I rest my case.

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