South Africa, which has avoided taking sides in the Russian-Ukrainian war, announced yesterday, Thursday, that it will hold joint military naval exercises with Russia and China next month, which will last for 10 days.

"In order to promote the thriving relations between South Africa, Russia and China, a multinational naval exercise will be held between these three countries," a statement from the military said.

The exercise, called "Mosi", which means "smoke" in the local Tswana language, is scheduled to take place from February 17-27 off the coast of Durban and Richards Bay.

The South African National Defense Force indicated that these maneuvers are the second of their kind for the forces of the three countries, as the naval maneuvers were conducted for the first time in November 2019 off the coast of Cape Town.

The statement added that more than 350 South African military personnel will participate with their Russian and Chinese counterparts, with the aim of exchanging skills.

South Africa recently assumed the presidency of the "BRICS" group, which also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China, to challenge the hegemony led by the United States and Europe. It also refused to condemn the Russian war on Ukraine, which was followed by the imposition of harsh sanctions on Moscow by the West.

South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance party criticized the maneuvers, calling them "ridiculous" and taking place at a "critical time in global geopolitical history".

Shadow defense minister Cobus Marais said the joint maneuvers showed the government was "biased".

He added, "It is clear that the value for Russia lies in projecting its geopolitical influence in South Africa," in the face of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States.