White House National Security Council spokesman Admiral John Kirby has described reports that a Russian cargo ship transported weapons from a port in South Africa to Russia in December as a “serious issue”.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “We have consistently and strongly urged countries not to provide any support for Russia’s war.
“We don’t believe that anybody should be making it easier for Mr Putin to kill innocent Ukrainian people, period.
“We’ve had multiple conversations at multiple levels, with multiple countries about those concerns, but obviously I’m not going to get into the diplomatic conversations themselves.
“It’s a serious issue.”
America’s ambassador to South Africa said on Thursday that he was confident a Russian ship, the Lady R, had picked up weapons in the country last year, which would represent a breach of Pretoria’s declared neutrality in the war.
“We are confident that weapons were loaded onto that vessel, and I would bet my life on the accuracy of that assertion,” Ambassador Rueben Brigety told journalists in South Africa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa responded, saying his government would open an inquiry.
“The matter is being looked into and in time, we’ll be able to speak about [it],” the president said.