Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he saw no reason to criticise Moscow over the offensive in Ukraine, extolling Russian-African friendship, during a visit by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Museveni praised Russia as a partner in the struggle against colonialism going back a century while speaking alongside Lavrov, who is on a four-nation African tour seeking support for Moscow, on Tuesday.
“If Russia makes mistakes then 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 continued.
Lavrov praised what he described as “the responsible and balanced position taken by Uganda and other African states.”
He accused the West of displaying a colonial mindset by demanding that Africa adopt an anti-Russian stance.
‘We have forgiven the colonialists’ Harking back to the Cold War, Museveni, who has been in power for 36 years, said that when asked if he was pro-West or pro-East he rejected the question as idiotic.
“I am pro-myself. And I deal with other people according to how they relate with my own interest,” he said.
Lavrov has already visited Egypt and the Republic of Congo. From Uganda, he will head to Ethiopia, which has long been a stalwart ally of the West but has recently rowed with the United States over its conduct of a conflict in its northern region of Tigray.
Many African countries, which import Russian grain and energy while also buying Ukrainian grain and benefitting from Western aid flows and trade ties, have avoided taking sides over the conflict in Ukraine.
Uganda was among 17 African nations that abstained in a March vote on a United Nations resolution condemning the Russian offensive, which was supported by 141 countries out of 193.
Museveni drew heavily on historical events to explain his preference for staying on good terms with both Russia and the West.
“Whenever issues come up and some people want us to take positions against Russia, we say ‘but you people, these people have been with us for the last 100 years, how can we be automatically against them?’ Museveni said.
“We have even forgiven our former enemies, the colonialists, the ones who have colonised us, the ones who had actually taken slaves from here and who did bad things. We have forgiven them and we are working them,” he added.