ANC government must come clean on Russian collaboration in Antarctica

Issued by Dave Bryant MP – DA Shadow Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment
28 Feb 2023 in News

The DA will write to the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy to request a copy of the memorandum of understanding signed between South African and Russian Antarctic research teams. The MOU defines the level of logistical support that South Africa is providing to Russia in pursuit of its national Antarctic programme.

This comes after a response to a Parliamentary question where the Minister claimed that the department was not aware of any alleged Russian gas and oil prospecting in Antarctica. This prospecting goes against the Antarctic Treaty signed by South Africa and Russia in 1961. It seems hard to believe that neither the Minister (who visited Antarctica recently), nor her department would have any knowledge of the prospecting, which has been covered widely by local and international media and NGOs.

Furthermore, a Russian research vessel, The Akademik Aleksandr Karpinskiy recently docked in Cape Town harbour on its way to Antarctica to carry out testing in Antarctica and this sparked a flurry of environmental protests. The ship is known to be owned by a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned mineral exploration company RosGeo.

It is vitally important to establish whether the direct logistical support being provided by South African scientists is being used to facilitate illegal prospecting in the Antarctic by the Putin regime. It is clear that the ANC government is moving ever closer to Russia and refusing to condemn its murderous invasion of Ukraine. It is not unfounded therefore to assume that the ambivalence being shown in relation to illegal Russian prospecting could also be seen as tacit support.