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Russia won’t use supersonic missile at South Africa naval exercise

Chinese frigate Rizhao (598) is seen ahead of scheduled naval exercises with Russian, Chinese and South African navies, in Richards Bay, South Africa, February 22, 2023. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

The captain of the Russian warship Admiral Gorshkov, due to take part in military exercises in South Africa, has denied that a supersonic missile, described as “unstoppable” will be tested during the drills.

Media reports had suggested the warship had been equipped with Zircon cruise missiles for the exercise.

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“There’s no hidden meaning in the exercises that will be performed,” Capt Oleg Gladkiy said at a media briefing on Wednesday at Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Russian warship has the letters VZ painted on its side – a symbol of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The war games will coincide with the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine this Friday, but South Africa has denied that this move was provocative, saying that the exercise was organised two years ago.

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While the naval exercise is expected to focus on coast guard and anti-piracy drills, it is also an opportunity for Russia and China, which is also taking part, to expand their influence in Africa.

Media access to Richards Bay harbour, where the 10-day drill is taking place, has been restricted.

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