The commander of the South African army's ground forces is on an official visit to Moscow, Russian news agencies said on Monday, after US accusations that Pretoria blamed arms deliveries to Russia.
Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha and his delegation spoke with Russian colleagues about "issues of military cooperation" aimed at "increasing the combat readiness of the two countries' armed forces," according to the Russian Defense Ministry, which was cited by the TASS and Interfax agencies.
"Agreements were struck during the meeting of the military chiefs on enhancing cooperation between ground forces in many domains", the statement added.
The team will tour military schools for the Russian ground forces as well as businesses affiliated with the country's military-industrial complex, the ministry announced.
The visit coincides with heightened tensions between South Africa and the United States, which accuses Pretoria of providing armaments to Russia, which has been waging a protracted war campaign against Ukraine.
The South African government pledged to conduct a probe into these purported deliveries after the American ambassador in Pretoria made these charges.
The South Afrvsn army was contacted by AFP but did not answer right away.
On Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that his nation would not become embroiled in "a competition between world powers" over Ukraine and that it had been under "extraordinary pressure" to pick a side.
"We reject the notion that favouring Russia above other nations is the result of our non-alignment.
"We also reject the idea that it endangers our relationships with other nations", the president added in a statement.
During their phone conversation last week, Ramaphosa and Vladimir Putin of Russia expressed a willingness to "increase" their collaboration, according to the Kremlin.
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