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Russian nuclear bombers land in South Africa ahead of 2023 Brics summit? No, video from 2019

IN SHORT: A viral clip is being shared on social media in South Africa with claims it shows close ties between the country and Russia in 2023. But it’s actually from a 2019 news broadcast on a Russian television network.

“White swan aircraft landed in Pretoria,” reads text on a video doing the rounds on social media in South Africa since early August 2023. Pretoria is the country’s administrative capital.


The clip shows the logo of RT, formerly Russia Today, Russia’s state-controlled TV news network.

“While the talks were underway, Russia’s strategic nuclear bombers known as the white swans actually landed in South Africa,” the news anchor says.

“The flight is being called a symbolic visit – or is it just another way for Russia to send a message about its capabilities?”

The clip cuts to a report showing large white aircraft flying and then landing at a dusty airfield.

“We all have different definitions of what it is to be a friend,” the correspondent says during the report. “But if you’re comfortable inviting a supersonic nuclear bomber for a visit, you’re pretty good friends.”

On Facebook, captions to the video include:

  • Russia's White Swan Supersonic Strategic Nuclear Bombers arrive in South Africa. The world is changing in real time.
  • Russian White swan bomber landed in South Africa confirming Russia / South Africa strategic plan and the military capability of Russia in Africa.
  • Russia is set to establish a strong bond with Africa and consequently break the monopoly of western white supremacists who in the guise of democracy pilaged the black race and by extension Africa continent.

Some versions of the video include the text: “Time for Africa. Whilst others are day dreaming about arresting Vladimir Putin.” Putin is the president of Russia, in power since 1999.

South Africa is set to host the 15th summit of Brics nations from 22 to 24 August 2023. Brics stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a group of countries in the developing world said to account for a quarter of the global economy.

The presidents of Brazil, India and China are to attend the summit, but Putin will not be there.

In March the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes committed during Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine. Russia launched a full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022.

As an ICC signatory, South Africa would be obliged to arrest Putin if he entered the country.

But does the video really show Russia’s white swan nuclear bombers landing in South Africa in a “symbolic visit” in August 2023?

News with Rick Sanchez-clip four years old

The video identifies the clip as from the RT show News with Rick Sanchez.

On the RT website, the News with Rick Sanchez page was last updated in October 2021. Sanchez now hosts Direct Impact with Rick Sanchez on RT. No report on Russian bombers touching down in South Africa in August 2023 can be found on either page.

A Google search using the keywords “white swans Rick Sanchez” led Africa Check to an edition of News with Rick Sanchez broadcast on 24 October 2019.

The clip in the viral video begins at the 14:29 mark. The broadcast’s previous segment is a report on the first Russia-Africa summit held in the city of Sochi in southern Russia from 23 to 24 October 2019. These were “the talks” Sanchez refers to at the start of the clip.

At the time, the white swans’ touchdown was also reported by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

The viral video is from 2019. It does not show Russian military aircraft visiting South Africa in August 2023 ahead of the Brics meeting.


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