Entebbe – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday defended his country’s relationship with Russia, as Moscow’s top diplomat toured Africa to drum up support over the war in Ukraine.
“How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us,” the veteran Ugandan leader said alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a press conference in the town of Entebbe.
“If Russia makes mistakes, we tell them. When they have not made mistakes, we can’t be against them,” he added, hailing Russia for backing anti-colonial movements in Africa.
Uganda was one of 17 African nations to abstain during a vote in March on a UN resolution that overwhelmingly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Vulnerable countries on the continent and elsewhere in the world, however, have been hard hit by the fallout from the war that has sent prices of fuel and food soaring.
Lavrov insisted Russia was not to blame.
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“There is a very loud campaign around this, but our African friends understand their root cause,” Lavrov said.
“They are not related to what is happening within the special military operation,” he said, using the Kremlin’s term for the conflict.
Lavrov’s trip comes hot on the heels of a landmark deal Russia and Ukraine signed on Friday with the United Nations and Turkey, which is aimed at relieving the global food crisis caused by blocked Black Sea grain deliveries.
Less than 24 hours later Moscow struck the Ukrainian port in Odessa – one of three exit hubs designated in the agreement – sparking fury in Kyiv and heightening fears the Kremlin would not go through with the deal.
As relations with the West have collapsed over the conflict, Lavrov said Africa would play a greater role in Russia’s foreign policy.
Museveni also said Kampala would cooperate with Moscow in a range of fields including space, energy, agriculture and vaccines.
“Our interest with Russia is when there is progress with Russia, we (Africa) benefit,” he added.
Lavrov arrived in Ethiopia later Tuesday on the latest leg of a trip that took him to Egypt and Congo-Brazzaville before Uganda.
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