Lavrov in Nairobi as Russia-Ukraine contest heats up in Africa

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Esha Saxena Mandala
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov touched down in Nairobi on Monday morning for a series of meetings with local leaders, his first trip to Nairobi but his fourth to Africa since the war in Ukraine began last year in February.

Mr Lavrov’s itinerary was not made public, but he was scheduled to meet President William Ruto and leaders of the Kenyan parliament and the Foreign Affairs ministry.

His trip is significant for both Kenya and the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.

The top Russian diplomat is expected to fly out to South Africa later for a ministerial meeting of members of the BRICS bloc – five emerging nations, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which had also invited a number of other countries.

Ahead of arrival, the Russian Embassy in Nairobi described Kenya as ‘friendly’ to Russia. Nairobi was one of the first African countries to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Martin Kimani, then sitting on the UN Security Council, had warned that such an invasion could easily re-erupt “embers of dead empires.”

Kenya has since stuck with the policy stance of the African Union, which calls for dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv.

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