The South African army has begun the first preparations for naval maneuvers with Russia and China off the coast of the Indian Ocean, which are expected to be launched in a week, in a move that Western countries have expressed concern and annoyance about.

And the French Press Agency quoted a military source today, Friday, as saying, "The Russian frigate (Admiral Gorshkov) has arrived in Durban, and the Chinese ship will arrive later. We are in the preparation phase, and the main maneuver will take place on February 22."

Last month, South Africa announced joint exercises with the Russian and Chinese navies "with the aim of exchanging operational skills and knowledge".

More than 350 South African military personnel will participate in the exercises until February 27 off Durban, the largest port in South Africa, and Richards Bay, 180 km to the north.

neutral position

South Africa has taken a neutral stance since the start of the war in Ukraine nearly a year ago, refusing to join Western calls to condemn Moscow.

On a visit to Pretoria last month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell spoke of "troubles" about relations between South Africa and Russia.

When asked about these joint military exercises, White House spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre expressed "the concern of the United States."

On the other hand, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said after a meeting with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Pretoria last January that "all countries are conducting military exercises with their friends."