[Ed. – If the end of our hiatus from history hasn’t been official enough for you, consider the deal done. This is a first. It’s not just a first; it’s a symbol of the kind of geographic outreach and strategic presence the U.S. and Europe spent the Cold War deterring from the former Soviet Union. South Africa was very much at issue in that dynamic. Soviet activism and proxies in the Horn of Africa and West and Central Africa pushed for decades toward the prize in Johannesburg. Now, thirty years on…here we are. This will be touted as Russia’s “answer” to U.S. strategic bombers staged in the Indian Ocean (Diego Garcia) making hops in and out of the Persian Gulf. The difference will be that staging in South Africa would enable Russian strategic forces to reach out and touch — well, the U.S. in D.G., for starters, impeded only by open water. It would also be a base for putting a thump on Antarctica – which would be unthinkable, if Russia didn’t have coastal missiles strung out along the rim of the Arctic to hold other nations’ unarmed icebreakers and survey ships at risk. The UK, owner of D.G. plus some strategically situated islands in the South Atlantic, and leader of the Commonwealth of which South Africa is a member, needs to watch her own six as well.]
The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable bombers will visit South Africa in what appears to be the first-ever such deployment to the African continent.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that sending the Tu-160 bombers is intended to help “develop bilateral military cooperation” and reflects a “strategic partnership” with one of Africa’s most developed economies.