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Regular version of the site

Article

Third time lucky? Establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and South Africa

South African Journal of International Affairs. 2015. Vol. 22. No. 4. P. 447-462.

Diplomatic relations between Russia and South Africa were established in 1992, before South Africa’s transition to democracy was completed. This move was perceived as a betrayal by many in both countries and beyond. For many decades the Soviet Union supported the African National Congress (ANC) in its fight against the apartheid regime. South Africa’s National Party government, in its turn, presented the USSR as the main force behind the ‘total onslaught’ – a total war purportedly waged against South Africa by the international communism. Yet it was with the National Party government that the Russians establishing diplomatic relations. This article looks into the reasons for this change of heart, discusses the political forces behind the decision to establish diplomatic relations, analyses the process which led to this event and the results of establishing diplomatic relations the way it happened and at the time it happened for both countries.