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Russia to hold joint naval drills featuring hypersonic missile during a security summit

Russia to hold joint naval drills featuring hypersonic missile during a security summit

Moscow has previously claimed to have conducted tests of its Zircon weapon, including last month’s Atlantic exercises. A missile-equipped frigate has been deployed to South Africa in preparation for joint exercises beginning on Friday.

As Western leaders gather for a major security conference, Russia is scheduled to participate in a naval exercise with China and South Africa that may include a test launch of a hypersonic cruise missile.

The deployment of a Zircon-armed frigate for ten days of joint exercises in the Indian Ocean will coincide with the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The ship arrived in Cape Town over the weekend bearing the letters Z and V, which are infamous symbols used by Russian forces to promote the illegal war.

Russia’s TASS news agency reported earlier this month that the drills will include a Zircon training launch, but South Africa’s National Defence Force has denied it.

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Last month, the Russian defense ministry conducted a simulated launch of the missile, which Vladimir Putin has described as “unstoppable.”

South Africa’s decision to host the Mosi II military exercise, which commences on Friday, has sparked criticism at home and increased western concerns about Russian and Chinese influence in Africa.

The government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, maintains a neutral position on the Ukraine conflict and abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution condemning the Kremlin last year.

Before the exercises, South Africa’s defense ministry stated, “Like any independent and sovereign state, South Africa has the right to conduct its foreign relations by its national interests.”

Before November, the nation held exercises with other international partners, including France.

However, Reuters reports that several EU and NATO diplomats stationed in South Africa “do not approve.”

The drills have also been criticized by opposition parties to Mr. Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).

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The Soviet Union supported the then-banned ANC in its fight against South Africa’s racist apartheid regime. As a result, the ANC has had longstanding ties with Moscow.

Significant summit commences as Ukraine prepares for ‘escalation’

The exercises will commence as a major security conference begins in Germany.

Later, Ukrainian officials are expected to speak at the Munich summit as Russian forces intensify a brutal offensive in the country’s eastern regions, which they invaded nearly a year ago.

On Thursday, 36 missiles were fired across Ukraine; 16 were intercepted by Kyiv’s air force, but one struck the largest oil refinery in the country.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to attend the Munich summit.

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This comes as Kyiv continues to press its allies for more military equipment, including jets.

In his nightly video address before the conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that troops were “holding the front” but were also prepared for an “escalation” by the enemy.

Mr. Putin is rumored to want to capture the small eastern city of Bakhmut by April, which is the focus of Russian efforts.

On Friday, he will meet with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko.