Uganda will be part of the upcoming Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia in July 2023. But, what does it mean for Uganda? Kungu Al-mahadi Adam, gives his analysis;

Russia’s expansion of military, economic, and political cooperation with Africa has grown in recent years. For example, Russia signed more than 20 bilateral defense agreements with African countries, increased its trade volume with the continent, and also expanded its media presence.

Particularly after being sanctioned by various Western countries following its Special Military Operation in Ukraine, Russia needed to find new business and geopolitical opportunities.

Furthermore, Russia capitalized on frustrations with Western policies and skillfully played the anti-colonialism card on the African continent.

Russia’s growing influence led to the convening of the first Russia-Africa summit in 2019, a “key milestone” in Russian-African relations. During the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “the development and consolidation of mutually beneficial ties with African nations and their integration associations is now one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities.”

The second Russia-Africa summit, will seek to further cooperation between Russia and African nations in areas of, among others, military, economic, and political cooperation.

The inaugural Russia-Africa Summit in 2019 in Sochi, saw leaders and representatives of Africa’s 54 countries participate, Uganda inclusive and will again participate in this year’s Summit.

But what are some of the key areas of interest for Uganda?

Assert Uganda’s neutrality position on Russia-Ukraine conflict

Uganda wants to reaffirm its neutrality view of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and also communicate its sovereignty regarding its Foreign Policy.

Since imposing sanctions on Russia by the U.S and Russia, with attempts to isolate it as a ‘punishment’, for launching a Special Military Operation in Ukraine in February last year, pressures have been mounted on countries in the world, to support them and export control packages against Moscow.

Uganda, on three occasions, abstained in UN General Assembly votes regarding the same. In August last year, President Museveni said, Uganda will continue cooperating with Russia, since it is not Kampala’s doctrine to inherit other countries’ enemies.

“We want to trade with Russia, we want to trade with all countries of the World. We don’t believe in being enemies of somebody’s enemy, no. We want to make our own enemies not to fight other people’s enemies, this is our doctrine,” Museveni said.

He reiterated the same at joint press conference with a European Union delegation, two days later, Museveni defended the country’s relationship with Russia. “How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us?” Museveni asked.

“If Russia makes mistakes, we tell them,” Museveni said, citing his participation in student demonstrations against the crushing of the Prague Spring by the Soviet Union in 1968.

“But when they have not made a mistake, we cannot be against them,” he added.

Museveni had earlier that month, in meeting with the U.S Ambassador to the United Nations H.E Linda Thomas-Greenfield at State House Entebbe, told the U.S to desist from involving Africa in sanctions imposed on Russia.

“We are also appealing to the U.S that if they really want to help Africa, they should consider separating us from the sanctions in a war where we are not participating,” he noted.

The President reiterated the same last year while responding to a question by Plus News reporter, Kungu Al-mahadi Adam. He said: “Why are we taking that stand (neutrality) on Russia-Ukraine conflict, it is because it is the correct one. We know the history very well. I have talked to all these leaders about our stand and it is the correct one.”

Now that is the position Uganda would like to reecho to the World. Uganda wants to communicate to the world powers that African states also have the back to determine the direction of their Foreign Policy.

Rooting for opening of ports on Black Sea.

Uganda may use the forum to seek reopening of ports in the black sea which greatly affected the food and fuel trade between Russia and Uganda. This, could result into emergence of a new deal addressing the global food, fuel and fertilizer prices.

Russia’s re-engagement with Uganda

Uganda seeks to cement the already flourishing relations with Moscow particularly in trade and military.

Russia is Uganda’s number one source of military equipment. Moscow has also been helping the country with technology and knowledge transfer in the military sector.

In 2011, Museveni purchased six Sukhoi Su-30MK2 fighters from Russia amidst protest from government officials, including then Central Bank Governor Emmanuel Mutebile. The planes cost about $740m at a time when inflation had skyrocketed to above 30%.

Russia exports to Uganda averaged about $50m for most of the years in the last decade but went up unusually again in 2020 by five-folds. This is the year after Museveni returned from Russia in 2019 for the first Russia-Africa summit.

Investment opportunities

Uganda looks at the summit as an avenue to attracting Foreign investors to Uganda.

President Museveni has in the recent past visit UAE, USA, UK among other countries courting investors the areas of energy, Agro-processing, tourism and hospitality, real estate, aviation, banking, mining, health and education sectors to prioritize Uganda.

In the past decade, Uganda has also tried to attract Russian private sector players with no success. In 2015, a consortium led by Russian companies was a surprise winner of a contract to construct a $4bn oil refinery. The company however walked away from the deal months later.

Uganda could use this Summit to ask Russian investors to take advantage of the many untapped opportunities available in the country.

Aid without strings

Last year, President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed a law expanding Russia’s restrictions on the promotion of what it calls “LGBT propaganda”, effectively outlawing any public expression of LGBT behaviour or lifestyle in Russia.

Uganda shares related views on the same and is ready to identify with any country which is opposed to the promotion of LGBT.

While officiating at the national celebrations to mark Janani Luwum Day at Wii-Gweng village in Mucwini Sub-County, Kitgum District, last week, President Museveni said Uganda will not embrace homosexuality and the West should stop seeking to impose its views to compel dissenting countries to “normalise” what he called “deviations”.

It should be noted that the West attaches strings on its aid, including saying “If you want this money, you have to do this about LGBTQ, for example — even if it goes against your country’s values. China and Russia say, ‘Here’s the money,’ and that’s it.”

So, Uganda could use the Forum to join Russia is telling the West that the problem of homosexuality is not something that they should normalise and celebrate, more so, asking them to learn how to respect other people’s views.

Kungu Al-Mahadi Adam is an experienced Ugandan multimedia Journalist with a background of fact checking and thorough research. He is very passionate about current African affairs particularly Horn of Africa. He...

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1 Comment

  1. How can Russia INVASION, not “special military opetation” , is not affecting Uganda, all the prices and inflation was decay during this unnecessary war, the fuel price is skyrocketing and all prices and all high inflation follows.

    Yes i understand that this nation is against homosexuality and in occidental countries, those twisted and sick LGBT(homosexuality) is accepted by them, because a minority is crazy, but Russian nation doesn’t promote this, neither do i personally, but Russia is promoting international CRIME, RAPE and TORTURE in all their history, so, what is worse?? Ask yourself this?????

    and they are colonised sorounding nations for all their history, making slaves all the surounding nations, including mine, making crime against all christians and church liders, Christianity was a threat for them, and they invented their own church to show the world that they still share the Christian vallues, calling any war started by them a kinda saint war against the satan, but they where Satanist itselfs, read the history.

    For shure, their supporting African nations, but just because at the end of the day, they’ll will need to have some strategic positions and relations in difrent parts of the world, because they know that some countries see their crimes, they need relations especially with a country that containing gold, and they need difrent places where to train their troops and open difrent military bases into the future, and they know that.

    Russia was attacked ukraine just for expansion taking by force new territoryes(is not this a colonialism? Or what? doing that, is setting a negative axample for the nations who have an ideea to expand and taking others countries territories, in this way they can start the 3rd world war, so how cannot affect uganda this things.

    In this verry moment Russia affecting every country of the world, special poor countries like uganda.

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