Museveni, Zelensky discuss improving diplomatic, bilateral ties
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday held a telephone conversation with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in which Russia’s war in Ukraine featured.
The two leaders also discussed modalities of improving diplomatic and bilateral relations between the two countries.
Ukraine and Uganda remain good trade partners with citizens of one country living, working or studying in the other, but have no diplomatic missions.
President Zelensky took to twitter Wednesday to announce the phone call which came days after former Ugandan prime minister Amama Mbabazi met with Ukraine’s top foreign ministry officials about a week ago.
Brokered the talks
Mr Mbabazi, largely believed to have brokered the talks, was part of a delegation that visited both Kiev and Moscow from the Brazzaville Foundation, a London-based civil society organisation, which aims at promoting peace through conflict resolution.
“I was pleased to have the first conversation in the history of bilateral relations with President of Uganda Kaguta Museveni,” Zelensky wrote. “I have outlined the Ukrainian peace initiatives at the UN. We also discussed the potential for the development of bilateral relations.”
Over the course of the war, Uganda has remained neutral in both rhetoric and United Nations General Assembly votes and the Museveni-Zelensky call could be seen as Ukraine trying to win Kampala over.
Just and durable peace
In a joint statement on Thursday, the UK and US embassies in Kampala said that while peace remained the ultimate goal in this crisis, Kiev has no options but to defend itself against violations on its sovereign territory, calling on Ugandans to echo Zelensky’s calls for a just and durable peace.
“We believe strongly that African voices matter in the international community… your voices matter in the global conversation. We believe that it is critical at this moment in time that the entire international community demonstrates unity and speaks with one voice against this aggression and in support of principles, timeless principle,” they said.
Both the US and UK have over the past months provided weapons, cash and intelligence support to Ukraine, whose ultimate intention was to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato which Washington and London are members.
Key military ally
Kampala is a key military ally of both Russia and Ukraine, and has spent millions of dollars over the past five years on the purchase of Russian military fighter jets and having Ukrainian experts maintain them and train its air force.
While addressing East African legislators in Kampala six months ago, Museveni insinuated that the war was being fuelled by external forces.
“There is a war going on now between Russia and Ukraine. I don’t know those encouraging Ukraine to fight but I think it’s not a good idea. Russia is superior to Ukraine in the four dimensions — superiority, sea, air, land and space,” he said.
Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for nearly four decades, has been an advocate of more dialogue than fighting.
In most of his public utterances on the conflict, he has been careful not to rub Russia or his western allies the wrong way.