It is outrageous that while Russia is raining missiles on Ukraine, Pretoria is confirming joint naval drills with Russia and the no less autocratic and increasingly aggressive China. And while the vast majority of South Africans believe that South Africa should stand by Ukraine, Pretoria's stance is not only immoral but downright foolish, given that the West, not Russia or even China, are South Africa's most important export destinations. Therefore, Pretoria's negligent alienation from its Western allies amounts to an act of political and economic denial that is likely to backfire.
While China and Russia are striving to absorb strategically important South Africa into their vision of a multipolar world order, Pretoria is trying to maintain a balanced position between the emerging BRICS and NATO. Therefore, the upcoming trilateral naval exercises should not be taken as evidence that South Africa is switching sides from NATO and the West to China and Russia. Moreover, South Africa's military doctrine, equipment, and tactics are still heavily dependent on the Western military block, with which it has held more drills with them than with China and Russia. BRICS collaboration doesn't translate to Western alienation.