September 22, 2023

White House Fails to Substantiate Bombshell Allegation Against South Africa-Russia Weapons Link

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, joined by NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, holds a press briefing Tuesday June 21, 2022, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)

The White House faced scrutiny on Friday after the United States Ambassador to South Africa, Reuben E Brigety, made a bombshell accusation on Thursday that South Africa was supplying weapons to Russia for the purpose of killing Ukrainians.

During a virtual news briefing on Friday, White House spokesperson John Kirby was unable to provide substantial evidence to support the claim, leading to further questions and concerns.

Kirby admitted that he did not have much information beyond what was discussed in a roundtable in South Africa, where Ambassador Brigety made the claim without providing any evidence. This lack of evidence raised doubts about the validity of the accusation.

Kirby mentioned that the US consistently urges countries not to support Russia’s war and to refrain from making it easier for President Putin to harm Ukrainians. However, he declined to provide specific details about diplomatic exchanges that have taken place on this matter.

Reporters pressed Kirby on the possibility that Russia may be acquiring weapons from countries without the knowledge of their respective governments. Kirby admitted he could not answer that question, reiterating that he had already shared as much information as he could during the press conference.

Meanwhile, the South African Presidency vehemently rejected the claims made by Ambassador Brigety, expressing serious concern and emphasizing that the allegations undermine the cooperative and collaborative spirit that has characterized the relationship between the two nations.

To address the allegations, the South African government has initiated an independent inquiry led by a retired judge. It was agreed during recent talks between the South African delegation and US officials that the investigation would be allowed to unfold without hindrance, and the US intelligence services would share any evidence they possess.

President Cyril Ramaphosa also addressed the issue during a parliamentary session, affirming that the Lady R issue is currently under investigation. He reiterated the government’s commitment to uncovering the truth and called on all parties involved to present concrete evidence to support their allegations.

The outcome of the investigation will be crucial in determining the validity of the allegations and will have significant implications for the relationships between South Africa, Russia, and the United States. This controversy underscores the challenges of international diplomacy and the importance of presenting evidence-based claims in matters of global significance

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