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‘Mind your own business’: Lavrov tells US envoy after arms shipment claim

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has lashed out at claims by the US envoy to South Africa about arms shipment from the country to Russia, telling him to stop meddling in relations between Moscow and Pretoria. 

"If an American or any other foreign ambassador from across the ocean suspects something, he or she had better mind their own business," Lavrov emphasized Wednesday during a press conference in Mozambique in response to the allegations made by the US diplomat.

He insisted that Washington should focus on repairing its tarnished global image rather that meddling in ties between Russia and South Africa.

Lavrov underlined that Moscow "never violates international norms, unlike our Western counterparts who do so while declaring their neutrality on the developments in Ukraine, as they pump that country with large amounts of the latest long-range and generally unsafe weapons."

The top Russian diplomat also called on US diplomats around the world to "take care of their own image in the eyes of foreign public."

The US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety has accused the host country of covertly shipping arms to Russia and alleging that weapons and ammunition had been loaded on the Russian cargo ship Lady R that docked at Simon’s Town naval base near Cape Town in December.

The charges drew an angry rebuke from Pretoria with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa slamming the allegations as "unfounded."

His office also reacted strongly to the US allegations in a statement, slamming it as “disappointing” and insisting that the US envoy had “adopted a counter-productive public posture.”

It further reiterated that there had been “no evidence” indicating the loading of weapons on the Russian cargo vessel.

South Africa’s foreign ministry summoned Brigety after the unsubstantiated claims, emphasizing that there was "no record of an approved arms sale by the state to Russia related to the period/incident in question."

The ministry later declared that Brigety had "admitted that he crossed the line" with his remarks.

Moscow and Pretoria maintain close ties since the days of the Soviet Union. South African has so far refused to join a campaign of Western sanctions against Russia over its "special military operation" in Ukraine that began in February last year.

Instead, Pretoria has time and again stressed on peace negotiations to end the conflict.

In May, Ramaphosa reiterated his South Africa's neutrality between the two warring sides, explaining that Pretoria does not want to be "drawn into a contest between global powers."

Since the onset of the war, the United States and its European allies have unleashed an array of unprecedented sanctions against Russia and poured numerous batches of advanced weapons in Ukraine to help its military fend off the Russian troops, despite repeated warnings by the Kremlin that such measures will only prolong the war.


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