Diplomatic relations between Russia and the Republic of South Africa were established 25 years ago on February 28.
Russia provided all-round assistance to the struggle waged by the African National Congress against the apartheid. The establishment of diplomatic relations was a logical stage in South Africa’s socio-political movement towards the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.
A regular and trust-based dialogue at the summit level is a distinctive feature of Russian-South African political contacts. President of Russia Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Cape Town in 2006 (when the sides signed a Treaty of Friendship and Partnership) and a working visit to Durban for a BRICS summit in 2013 (Joint Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership). President Jacob Zuma visited Russia seven times: on an official visit in 2010 and on working visits in 2011, 2013 (a working visit in May 2013 plus a G20 summit in September 2013), 2014 and 2015 (Victory Day celebrations in Moscow in May 2015 and a BRICS summit in July 2015). The presidents of Russia and South Africa regularly exchange messages on current issues of bilateral cooperation.
Russia and South Africa closely coordinate their foreign policy actions based on similar or identical views on a multipolar world order, respect for international law and the UN’s leading role in global affairs, stronger information security, the settlement of regional conflicts, and the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. Russia and South Africa are also fruitfully cooperating in the G20.
They also cooperate constructively in BRICS, which meets their national interests and is facilitating the progressive development of the group and strengthening its global political and economic positions.
Russia and South Africa maintain contact between their parliaments. A group on cooperation with the National Council of Provinces, the upper house of the South African Parliament, was established at the Russian Parliament’s Federation Council (upper house) in 2015.
Economic cooperation between the two countries is coordinated by the Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation co-chaired by Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Bilateral trade amounted to $750 million in 2016 (Russian exports to South Africa totalled $207 million and imports from South Africa $543 million).
Russian companies working in South Africa include Renova (manganese ore mining, manganese and iron alloy production and solar energy projects), Severstal (hot briquetted iron production) and Renaissance Capital (financial services). Russia’s Rosgeologia and the South African oil and gas corporation Petro SA have signed an agreement on cooperation in offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production in South Africa. In 2014, the governments of Russia and South Africa signed an agreement on strategic partnership and cooperation in nuclear energy and industry. Several companies with South African capital are active in Russia, including SABMiller, Mondi, Naspers, Bateman, Bell and Standard Bank.
The Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation is focused on cooperation in nuclear research and the creation of medical and supercomputer technology. On February 27, 2017, Roscosmos State Corporation activated a Russian quantum optical system at a tracking station at Hartebeesthoek, west of Pretoria.
The cross-cultural seasons that were held in South Africa and Russia in November and December 2016 included concerts by Russian musicians and singers in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, photo exhibitions and workshops for South African university students and faculty, as well as concerts by South African dance and singing groups in Moscow and St Petersburg.