Cooperation with Moscow is “a matter of life and death” for Uganda, Jeje Odongo says
Uganda will not succumb to pressure from former colonizers in the West to turn against Russia, as longstanding bilateral relations with Moscow are too important, the Ugandan foreign minister has said.
“We were colonized and forgave those who colonized us. Now, the colonizers are asking us to be enemies of Russia, who never colonized us, is that fair? Not for us: their enemies are their enemies, our friends are our friends,” Jeje Odongo told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency on Saturday.
Uganda, which was a British protectorate for almost 70 years, enjoyed good relations with the Soviet Union after regaining its sovereignty in 1962. The USSR actively pushed for the decolonization of Africa, and supported many of the countries after they became independent.
“Many of our students were educated in Russia, so why should there suddenly be a problem with us continuing our relationship with Russia, which we did historically,” the foreign minister said during the interview, given on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Odongo highlighted the importance of military cooperation with Moscow, saying it’s a matter of “life and death” for his country.
“Most of the military equipment in Uganda is Russian-made. For this reason, despite the so-called sanctions, Uganda must update this equipment to be able to defend itself… And we’ll continue this cooperation, because we must survive,” he explained.
Uganda was among more than two dozen African nations that abstained, when the UN voted on Western-drafted resolutions condemning Russia over the conflict in Ukraine in March and October last year. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited the Ugandan capital, Kampala, during his African tour last summer.
In his message to the African Union summit on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called African nations “important and reliable partners” for Moscow, and expressed a willingness to boost cooperation further in various areas.