Russia and China will conduct naval drills in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa next month,

in another indication of their strengthening relationships with Africa’s most developed country which is South Africa.

The South African armed forces said they will engage in “a multinational maritime exercise” from February 17 to 27 near Durban and Richards Bay.

The announcement comes days before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is due to visit South Africa and hold talks with his counterpart Naledi Pandor.

The drills will happen around the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24

and will bring more focus on the push by Russia and China for global influence, and the refusal of South Africa to side with the West and condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine.