Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwane, SA Navy Chief, was the only African naval representative at last month’s Russian Federation Navy Fleet Review in St Petersburg.
Other countries represented included India, Pakistan, Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia according to the SA Navy website which said Hlongwane was invited to the event by Admiral VI Korolev, Commander-in-Chief of the Federation’s naval forces.
Hlongwane was reportedly assured his attendance would contribute to further development of bilateral relations between Russia and South Africa, including combined exercises and the possibility of the Russian Navy being part of future Ibsamar exercises (Ibsamar 2018 will be hosted by South Africa between 1 and 14 October with participation from Brazil and India). Korolev is reported as saying future combined exercises “will take place not only for the benefit of participating countries but for the entire international community”.
The official SA Navy site also has it the Russian naval chief asked the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), via Hlongwane, to participate in the annual Russian military games. South Africa has taken part in Russia’s ‘Military Olympics’ or Army Games in the past, notably with a big presence in 2017. According to Russian media, South Africa took part in seven Army Games contests between 28 July and 11 August this year, including the Tank Biathlon.
The issue of co-operation in the field of naval education was also tabled during discussions with the suggestion of a delegation exchange between the two countries one way of improving co-operation.
Reports have it that 39 warships, 38 aircraft and more than four thousand sailors and soldiers took part in the fleet review on the River Neva.