SA, Russia strengthens bilateral relations

South Africa expressed its desire to strengthen partnerships with Russia in the areas of education, science and technology.

As South Africa prepares to host the 15th BRICS summit in August, President Cyril Ramaphosa met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg over the weekend to discuss the relationship between the two countries and reaffirm strategic partnerships in several areas including energy, industry and agriculture.

Putin expressed his support and confidence in the upcoming summit’s success while reaffirming his country’s commitment to bilateral ties with South Africa.

He stressed the close collaboration between the two countries in various international fora like the United Nations, G20 as well as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), which is currently being chaired by South Africa.

“We closely and constructively cooperate within this grouping in order to extend our strategic cooperation between the five countries.”

Putin was speaking on Saturday during a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa at Konstantinovsky Palace in St. Petersburg. The gathering was held to discuss South Africa and Russia’s bilateral relations.

Ramaphosa said he appreciated Russia’s support, underscoring the longstanding history of collaboration between the two nations.

He emphasised that their cooperation goes back to their joint efforts within the G20 on numerous critical issues.

Ramaphosa said the countries’ partnership extends to the BRICS platform, where they have actively engaged in addressing matters of mutual interest.

“We are delighted to have your support as we are going to host BRICS in a few weeks.

“A number of Russian officials and ministers have been to South Africa to attend the various preparatory meetings that are taking place. We are hoping that the participation of all the BRICS countries will lead to a valuable outcome. We are looking forward to a successful summit,” Ramaphosa said.

Turning attention to the recently concluded second Russia-Africa Summit, Ramaphosa lauded Putin for hosting a ‘well negotiated and well crafted’ summit, representing the views of various attending countries.

“I believe that we have a declaration that can take forward our relationship between Africa and Russia.

“What is particularly pleasing is that Russia conducts its relationship with Africa at a strategic level, with a great deal of respect for and recognition of the sovereignty of African States,” the president said.

He said that Russia’s support for Africa has remained steadfast over time, dating back to the days of the Soviet Union.

Multi-level ties

Ramaphosa affirmed that South Africa and Russia share and uphold strong ties.

“It’s a multi-level relationship. On an investment level, there are quite a number of companies in the South African market that are also invested in the Russian market.”

Ramaphosa said that South Africa is presently grappling with an energy crisis and could gain valuable insights from Russia’s experience.

“We could learn a lot and do a lot together with Russia on the energy side. On the science and technology side, there is a great deal that we can learn from each other,” he said.

The president mentioned his interest in other fields such as space exploration.

“You have advanced a great deal in space, and that is one area in which we could cooperate.

“We appreciate the support we received from Russia during the Covid-19 [pandemic]. Your innovation when it came to Covid-19 helped to inspire our own scientists. I remember you [President Putin] and I had a conversation after our scientists discovered Omicron. You sent Russian scientists to South Africa so that we could exchange views. I do believe that that was really impactful. We thank you for that,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa also expressed his desire to encourage an increasing number of students to pursue studies in various disciplines in Russia.

The South African president acknowledged the value of the extensive support provided by Putin to many South Africans who have been educated in Russia and expressed his wish to see this support continue.

Ramaphosa praised Putin’s stance on the representation of Africa at the United Nations level.

“We continue to be a continent that is not represented in the key structures of the UN. Thank you for being supportive in that regard,” he said. –


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