Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived Monday in Uganda, the third stop on an African tour to strengthen ties with the continent and seek support against Western pressure over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Lavrov was greeted in Entebbe by his Ugandan counterpart, Jeje Odongo, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.
The top Russian diplomat is scheduled to hold talks on Tuesday with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, according to the Russian Tass news agency.
Uganda is one of several countries in East Africa that is suffering from food shortages following a severe drought. Rising inflation fueled by the war in Ukraine has further stressed food supplies in the region.
Western nations blame Russia’s war and its Black Sea blockade of Ukrainian grain for the soaring global food prices that are fueling risks of famine in the Horn of Africa.
Russia blames Western sanctions for the precarious food situation.
Like most of Africa, Uganda has remained neutral in the conflict.
Lavrov’s trip to Africa, which also includes stops in Egypt, the Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, appears to be aimed in part at seeking allies, as Moscow is under intense Western pressure for its invasion of Ukraine.
In a column published in newspapers in the four countries Lavrov is visiting, the Russian foreign minister wrote, “We appreciate the considered African position as to the situation in and around Ukraine” and described the pressure being put on African nations to join Western sanctions as “unprecedented.”
Earlier Monday, Lavrov was in the Republic of Congo, the first visit by Russia’s top diplomat to that country and Lavrov’s second stop in Africa, after Egypt.
The Russian foreign minister met Monday with the Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso at his residence in Oyo, a town 400 kilometers north of the capital, Brazzaville.
In Egypt, Lavrov met with the Arab League leadership, seeking the support of the group’s 22 member states and accusing the West of ignoring his country’s security concerns.
Ahead of his trip, Lavrov praised African nations for their independence and lashed out at Western nations that profited from Africa’s past colonial rule.
Lavrov’s visit to the Republic of Congo, a former French colony, came as French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in the region for visits to Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau.
France has pulled back support from some former colonies, such as Mali, as they have become less democratic. Mali is under military rule and is accused by Paris of hiring Russian mercenaries. Both Moscow and Bamako deny deploying Russian mercenaries in Mali.
After visiting Uganda, Lavrov will next travel to Ethiopia, where the African Union has its headquarters.
During his Africa trip, Lavrov is also promoting the second Russia-Africa summit, which would be held in mid-2023, he announced Sunday in Egypt.
The U.S. plans to hold a summit with African leaders in December.
Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse.