Thandi Modise defends Russia trip, says the two countries have good relations

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Defence Minister Thandi Modise.
Defence Minister Thandi Modise.
Deon Raath
  • Defence Minister Thandi Modise has defended her attendance at an international security conference in Russia.
  • If a similar conference were to be held in Israel, South Africa would have attended, Modise told Parliament.
  • South Africa has taken a hard stance against Israel over its conflict with Palestine.

Defence Minister Thandi Modise has defended her attendance at an international security conference in Russia, saying South Africa would have accepted a similar invitation from the State of Israel.

Earlier this month, Modise was one of the speakers at the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security, where she addressed defence ministers and industry experts on global security matters.

On Wednesday, she gave reasons for her trip to Russia during a question-and-answer session in the National Assembly.

Responding to a question from DA MP Kobus Marais, Modise said South Africa and Russia enjoyed cordial relations, with both countries having signed military agreements benefitting both countries.

"The acceptance of the invitation was seen as a crucial step to articulate South Africa's position on the need for the maintenance of international peace and security.

READ | ‘We have allowed warlords to reign supreme’ - Thandi Modise talks tough at summit in Russia

"We obey all nation states from across the continent, and we would similarly have accepted an invitation had it come from the State of Israel given the conflict ongoing there," she added.

South Africa has taken a hard stance against Israel over its conflict with Palestine.

At the conference earlier this month, Modise spoke tough against warmongers.

"Through our own silence in action and selective morality, we have allowed warlords to reign supreme in the world and thus allowing their deadly agendas to flourish unabated. The world can no longer afford to be held to ransom by warmongers," she said.

Modise also told MPs South Africa should never run away from dealing with issues of toxic national interests.

She also confirmed South Africa and Russia still enjoyed good relations.

"No country's national interests are so important that it can be used to oppress other nations."

Asked about the reasons behind the war, Modise said: "I do know that whatever it is, it must be taken right back to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and the inability of the United Nations to intervene when it should have intervened.

READ | SA won't be bullied, Pandor tells Blinken on US law seeking to punish states backing Russia

"That is why we have been calling for a relook at the power relations in the UN [Security Council]. The big brother, little sister syndrome there … we must also be looking at the power that is vested in the countries that make up the UN Security Council. When the UN was formed, we thought that all members would be equal."

South Africa has faced international and local criticism for taking a neutral stance on the war in Ukraine after it, along with 16 other African countries, abstained from a UN vote condemning Russia's invasion.

Modise finds herself in Russia, just days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to South Africa last week.

Blinken's visit coincided with the release of a 17-page strategy document stressing the threats posed by China and Russia to US interests in sub-Saharan Africa.

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