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Biden Envoy: Lavrov was in Uganda to Sway Museveni to Russia

United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield has said Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov traveled to Uganda to sway President Museveni to Russia which is facing isolation by the western countries due to its role in the Ukraine conflict.

Linda was responding to a question from the Ugandan journalist who wondered whether she was in Kampala to persuade Museveni to choose the west’s side.

“I am sure that’s what Foreign Minister Lavrov was here to do,” said Linda.

“But we have a very strong, abiding relationship with Uganda. This is not my first visit to Uganda; it will not be my last visit to Uganda. And I will tell you that my trip has been in the planning for quite some time. It just happened, coincidentally, to fall after the Lavrov visit,” she emphasised.

Diplomatic sources separately confirmed Linda had planned to travel to Uganda earlier this year.

The U.S. has been pressuring African countries to choose a side on the Ukraine conflict.

Uganda runs a non-aligned foreign policy, giving Kampala room to work with both western countries such as the UK and United States as well as eastern states including Russia, China and Iran.

In the 2021 general elections, Museveni came under fire from the United States over security forces’ human rights abuses.

Washington also slapped sanctions on some Ugandan officials accused of perpetrating human rights violations, straining relations with Kampala.

The U.S. had also tried to isolate Museveni on the international scene due to his close ties with Russia and China.

But the Ukraine war has compelled U.S., which is eager to isolate Russia, to reconsider its stance on Museveni.

Linda said she traveled to Uganda “to reaffirm and strengthen the U.S. relationship with Uganda, to discuss with Uganda solutions and how we are working as partners with Uganda to find solutions to food insecurity, high energy cost, and supporting – strongly supporting the refugee community that Uganda so generously hosts here in this country.”

During Lavrov’s trip to Uganda, Museveni extolled Uganda’s deep ties with Russia.

Commenting on the global conflict between Ukraine and Russia, President Museveni said they don’t believe in being enemies of somebody’s enemy.

“We want trade with Russia. We want 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 fight other people’s enemies,” he said.

In response, Linda observed: “Uganda and any African country have the right to choose who their friends are and who their enemies are. We’re here as Uganda’s friend.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov hands over a message from President Putin to President Museveni during a meeting at State House Entebbe on Tuesday, July 26

She added: “We still have a strong partnership with President Museveni. He has and continues to be a leader in this region.”

It is unlikely that Linda will persuade Museveni to toe the U.S. line especially on the Ukraine conflict.

During Lavrov’s trip, Museveni said there were a lot of potential areas of cooperation in addition to security citing agriculture such as coffee, bananas, tea, milk and beef among others.

Russia and Uganda have since agreed to co-operate on areas of economy, agriculture, cyber security, space technology, nuclear technology, pathogen technology and ideological studies.

President Museveni said that with trade agreements, some of the African products that have been going to Russia through western Europe could go directly to benefit both sides.

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