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.
The mission comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host the first-ever Russia-Africa summit this week with 43 of the continent’s 54 heads of state or government in attendance. The remaining 11 countries will be represented by foreign ministers or other officials.
As part of efforts to expand its clout in Africa, Russia has signed military cooperation agreements with at least 28 African countries, the majority of them in the past five years.