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Russia plays key role in Africa’s military and economic stability, Modise says

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Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Defence Minister Thandi Modise has reiterated how important ties with Russia have been for SA amid a scramble by some Western countries for access to the country’s mineral resources, says the writer.

By Svetlana Ekimenko

The agenda of the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security, besides global security issues, is specifically focused on developments in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

South Africa regards Russia as potentially able to make a vast contribution to military and economic stability in the region, Thandi Modise, the country’s minister of defence, has told Sputnik.

Speaking at the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security, the defence minister hailed South Africa’s traditionally strong ties with Russia.

Thandi Modise pointed out the crucial link between growing economic stability and enhanced democratisation processes, saying that on this aspect, Russia’s contribution could be invaluable for her country.

South Africa is not looking only at economic issues when furthering its co-operation with Russia, she said. According to Modise, the two countries enjoy a cultural affinity, bringing ties between them even closer.

“So, we think that contribution, investment, real investment into the African economies will not only grow the Russian economy, but it will also help bring us up,” she said.

‘Growing Positive Relations’

Weighing in on co-operation within the format of BRICS – a bloc of powerful industrialising economies established in 2009 that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, Thandi Modise hailed the group as an arena for “growing positive relations throughout the world”.

On the potential expansion of BRICS, Modise recalled how through South Africa, the group was able to expand its reach to the rest of the African continent.

“You will also remember that every time BRICS is hosted in South Africa, the other states are invited to participate. And therefore, we are already enabling both China, Brazil, and India to get access to countries which you sometimes may not have been able to come into,” the minister said.

BRICS International Forum President Purnima Anand said earlier in the summer that Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia could “very soon” join the group, adding that the issue had been discussed at the 14th BRICS Summit in June. That same month, the Islamic Republic of Iran applied to join the bloc, which accounts for 40 percent of the world’s population and around 25 percent of the global GDP.

‘Boosting Multilateralism’

The 10th jubilee Moscow Conference on International Security convened at a time of heightened tensions that have placed particular emphasis on international security and stability issues.

In light of this, Thandi Modise accentuated the importance of the forum as part of a far-reaching attempt to strengthen multilateralism to ensure that every nation, every human being can be heard.

With the international situation particularly strained against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, prompting some Western countries to try to hamper Russia’s military-technical and economic co-operation with Africa, Thandi Modise said South Africa did not like being told with whom it could and could not associate.

‘Equal Partners’

Thandi Modise reiterated how important ties with Russia were for her country amid a scramble by some Western countries for access to South Africa’s mineral resources.

However, according to the minister, “Africa is beginning to wake up as a unitary force that must be respected.”

Acknowledging that South Africa is dealing with a plethora of issues and challenges, Thandi Modise has suggested that her country is mature enough to see itself as an equal partner in its friendship with Russia.

South Africa and Russia, Thandi Modise concludes, have a destiny to fulfil “to ensure that generations after us live in peace”.

Ties between Russia and African countries have been steadily growing since receiving a boost in the wake of the first Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum held under the motto “For Peace, Security and Development” in Sochi on October 23-24, 2019.

All 54 African states were officially represented at the events, with the plenary session, Russia and Africa: Uncovering the Potential for Co-operation, addressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader stressed that the development of relations with African countries and regional organisations was among Russia’s foreign policy priorities.

“African states are confidently gaining political and economic weight, affirming themselves as one of the important pillars of the multipolar world order, and are taking an increasingly important part in working out international community’s decisions on key issues related to the regional and global agenda.

“Our positions are close or coincide on many of those matters, which creates favourable conditions for constructive interaction at the UN and other international platforms,” the Russian head of state said.

Svetlana Ekimenko is a Moscow-based Sputnik correspondent specialising in foreign affairs, social issues and science. Previously worked as host for live broadcasts of Radio Sputnik.

This article was first published on Sputnik