Top Russian diplomat flies in amid Ukraine war fall-out

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds a meeting with representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics in Moscow on February 25, 2022. PHOTO/ AFP

What you need to know:

  • Moscow aims at strengthening ties with the African continent that has been skeptical on Western condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Affairs minister Sergey Lavrov jetted into the country yesterday from Congo-Brazzaville as part of his four-nation Africa tour to counter accusations against Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Mr Lavrov will today hold talks with President Museveni at State House, Entebbe, on a wide-range of issues, including the second leg of the Russia-Africa summit planned for later this year. From Uganda, he heads to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the summit will be convened.

Mr Lavrov kicked off his African tour on Sunday in Egypt where he held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Foreign minister Sameh Shukri. 

At a joint press conference in Cairo, the two Foreign Affairs ministers said they discussed issues of mutual concern, including the simmering global food crisis occasioned by the conflict in Ukraine in background of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yesterday, Mr Lavrov held talks with Congo-Brazzaville’s strongman Denis Sassou Nguesso.
Uganda enjoys warm bilateral relations with Moscow, bolstered by President Museveni’s East-West balancing act.

In May, Kampala voted to abstain—remain neutral—during the UN General Assembly’s emergency session convened to call for an immediate cessation of violence and withdrawal of the Russian military from Ukraine. 

In late February, Moscow launched an all-out invasion of its former Soviet territory by sea, land and air, which conflict has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

The conflict, among others, has since interrupted supply chains for petroleum products and food exports around the world precipitating a rise in the cost of living and inflation. Western countries have accused Moscow of trying to starve Africa.

In a statement published last week by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Lavrov said:  “We are well aware of the importance of Russian supplies of socially important commodities, including food to many countries around the world. We are mindful that these supplies play an important role in preserving social stability.”

In Uganda the commodity prices have shot up and people can barely live within their income. A litre of petrol is nearing Shs7,000 from Shs3,800 a few months ago, while diesel is about Shs6,500 from Shs3,400 in the same period. Food prices have also increased as the dry spell batters most parts of the country.

Meanwhile, an outfit calling itself, the Ukraine Solidarity Committee in Uganda in a statement yesterday protested Mr Lavrov’s visit and described the motives behind as sinister.

“It is a shame that the Russian diplomat [Sergey Lavrov] is shamelessly going to announce donations of food to these countries. We reject these symbolic donations of food,” the statement read in part.
“Prices of food in the very countries Sergey Lavrov will visit... has gone up, we demand that instead Russia completely stop the war and allow growing of wheat and export of wheat to return to full normalcy without a war situation. Stop shelling Ukrainian farmers so that they can grow food for the world,” the committee further argued through the statement.

In regards to disrupted businesses and cancelled contracts, the committee demanded for Russia’s full compensation to Ukrainian companies and the Ukrainian government for the losses and damages.

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