Moscow conference “exposed” South Africa to practical security strategies


South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise’s attendance of the recent Moscow Conference on International Security allowed her to “engage her counterparts on security issues in the context of ongoing global security challenges”.

Additionally, she told Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) public representative Russel Cebekhulu, the conference last August exposed South Africa to practical and innovative strategies used by other countries.

This was in response to him asking what “new ideas and solutions the Republic [of South Africa] has adopted” following her attendance at the Moscow conference.

The written ministerial reply reads, in part: “The Conference’s objectives were to share practical ideas and explore solutions on matters of global security. As South Africa is one of the key players on peace and security on the African continent, the conference was also an opportunity for Minister Modise to engage with her counterparts on security issues in the context of ongoing global security challenges and expose South Africa to practical and innovative strategies that are used by other countries, which include using technological advancements as force multipliers and how ongoing bilateral relations, both in the trade and the defence co-operation to address defence and security challenges that confront South Africa, the continent of Africa and the World at large”.

“During the conference South Africa reiterate (sic) and articulated its position on the need for maintenance of international peace and security as per the provisions of the United Nations (UN) Charter and per AU‘s (African Union’s) Agenda 2063 on ‘Silencing the Guns’, by condemning any violation of sovereignty and encourage through constant dialogue, mediation and diplomacy between conflicting parties as the only path to end the conflict and to work with all peace-loving nations of the world, through relevant multilateral bodies, to contribute meaningfully towards lasting peace in the world.”

Modise attended the August 2023 conference via video link. She attended the 2022 edition in Moscow in person at the invitation of Russian Minister of Defence, General Sergei Shoigu.

South Africa and Russia have enjoyed longstanding military ties, for example in 1995 signing agreements on military technical co-operation and co-operation between their respective defence ministries. South Africa has taken part in Russia’s annual Army Games from 2016 and has sent military personnel to train in Russia, including members of the SA Air Force.

In a strong signal of its willingness to engage with South Africa, the Russian Air Force in October 2019 sent two Tu-160 strategic bombers to Air Force Base Waterkloof in the type’s first visit to the continent, coinciding with the first Russia-Africa Summit, hosted in Russia.

The SANDF is getting caught up in diplomatic rows over its involvement with Russia ever since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, with its decision to proceed with naval Exercise Mosi II in February 2023 between Russia, China and South Africa attracting criticism, especially as the exercise coincided with the one year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited Russia and Ukraine in June 2023 as part of an unsuccessful peace mission, has said that South Africa would not be drawn “into a contest between global powers” over Ukraine despite having faced “extraordinary pressure” to pick sides.