Comrades Forever: Uganda’s Military Pledges Support For Russia And Defends President Putin – OpEd
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni held discussion with President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Russia–Africa summit in Sochi, that was on 23 October 2019. The transcript made, available on the official website, Russia and Uganda planned sharing a common task: to develop trade and economic ties and increase mutual trade.
“In this respect, I would like to note the decision to create a working group on cooperation in the mineral and raw materials sphere as part of the intergovernmental commission, adopted in October 2017 during a Russian business mission to Kampala,” Putin told Museveni.
With its active participation, an agreement was reached in April 2018 to establish Uganda’s national system for identifying, evaluating and certifying mineral fields and to further create a comprehensive analytical lab with international accreditation in cooperation with Russia. That a good task has been set, which will create conditions to step up joint work.
“We are also satisfied to note that several joint economic projects have already got underway in Uganda. A cotton processing plant operates with a share of Russian capital. Russia’s Unity trading house founded UgaRuss in Kampala to supply consumer goods made in Russia,” Putin added in his discussion before concluding that there are opportunities for cooperation in construction, information technologies and cybersecurity, agriculture, medicine, pharmaceutics, telecommunications, helicopter use and maintenance, and the environment.
President Yoweri Museveni, in his quick response, appreciated the irreversible contribution for fighting for Africa’s political freedom. “What I want to say at this meeting is a few areas, which we could look at. Number one is defence and security. We have been cooperating very well, we have supported building an army by buying good Russian equipment, aircrafts, tanks, and so on. We want to buy more. We have been paying cash in the past, cash, cash, cash. And this slows down the pace, because we must have cash to pay. What I propose is that you supply and we pay. That would be some sort of supply that would make us build faster, because now we pay cash, like for this Sukhoi jet, we paid cash,” Museveni said, according to the official transcript.
Museveni proposed “building a workshop for maintenance, overhaul and upgrade, because we have quite a bit of Russian equipment there, and now to overhaul, we need to bring it all the way back to here and then back. Transport costs. So we want to localize the maintenance and overhaul.”
After several years of Russia’s support to Uganda, it is now the turn for Uganda to reciprocate. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s mercurial son has declared that his country would send troops to defend Moscow if it came under threat. “Call me a ‘Putinist’ if you will, but we, Uganda shall send soldiers to defend Moscow if it’s ever threatened by the Imperialists!” Muhoozi Kainerugaba said on Twitter. — Muhoozi Kainerugaba (@mkainerugaba) March 30, 2023
“The West is wasting its time with its useless pro-Ukraine propaganda,” added the outspoken general, a fervent supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kainerugaba, who is notorious for his often erratic Twitter outbursts on all manner of issues, earlier this month announced that he plans to run for president in 2026 elections. He also announced Thursday the creation of a television and radio station under his MK brand, headed by a former special forces spokesman, and said one of the first places it would visit would be Russia.
As a serving military officer, Kainerugaba is banned under Uganda’s constitution from making unauthorised statements about sovereign states or foreign policy. Uganda has abstained during UN votes on the conflict, including one last month marking the one-anniversary of the war that called for Moscow to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops.
Museveni has also in the past defended his country’s ties with the Kremlin. “How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us,” he said during a tour of Africa by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in July last year to drum up support for Moscow over the war.
Russia has traditionally strong ties with Africa after lending support to independence movements on the continent that fought to oust colonial rulers. Observers have long believed that Kainerugaba was being groomed to succeed his 78-year-old father, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.
Some of his Twitter tirades have however caused foreign policy problems for Uganda. Following a row last year over a tweet threatening to invade Kenya, Museveni had sought to rein in his wayward son by telling him to stay off Twitter when it comes to affairs of state.
Uganda was ranked 119th in the Global Innovation Index in 2021. This country is richly endowed with abundant energy resources, which are fairly distributed throughout the country. These include hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal, peat and fossil fuels. With an estimated population of 35 million, it is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is a member of the East African Community (EAC).