Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Ethiopia on July 26 and 27 as part of a broader regional mission that also included Egypt, Congo and Uganda.
The purpose of Lavrov’s visit to Ethiopia is to strengthen the relationship with the federal government in Addis Ababa and meet with representatives of the African Union, with the intent of expanding the network of its influence in Africa and conveying a political narrative of support for Moscow’s policy in Ukraine.
In the meetings Lavrov held in Ethiopia – and in the other countries he visited – the Russian foreign minister sought to reiterate Russia’s version of the conflict in Ukraine, rejecting any responsibility for what happened and attributing it, on the contrary, to the United States and NATO’s attempted expansion.
Equally clear was Moscow’s position on the food crisis generated by the conflict, for which Russia once again blames Ukraine itself, the U.S. and Europe, as an indirect consequence of the conflict.
Lavrov went on to characterize the missile attack against the port of Odessa on July 23, launched shortly after finalizing an agreement with Turkey on grain exports, as a military operation aimed at targeting Ukrainian defense infrastructure, which did not cause damage to grain loading terminals. On the contrary, Ukrainian authorities reiterated how the attack not only caused some civilian casualties but also damaged grain loading terminals (https://www.agi.it/estero/news/2022-07-27/ucraina-lavrov-sponda-africa-17566132/).
The visit to Ethiopia also saw Lavrov retracing the narrative he had already advocated in Uganda, Congo and Egypt, calling on African countries not to join the project of a unipolar world led by the United States and reiterating Russia’s reasons on the merits of the conflict in Ukraine, on whose responsibilities once again the Russian foreign minister called for a U.S., European and NATO responsibility.
Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Meles Alem, at a press conference on July 28, reported on the meeting among Federation President Sahle-Work Zewde, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, where issues pertaining to strengthening bilateral relations, trade, technology transfer, and development of agricultural and energy projects were discussed.
Russia reportedly offered to provide for a review of debt incurred since Soviet times by turning it into a development aid package, to be channeled mainly into the Melkawakena power plant project and for the construction of the Balcha hospital (https://ethiopianmonitor.com/2022/07/28/russian-foreign-minister-visit-to-ethiopia-fruitful-mofa/). Russia, Meles reported, also said it was ready to support Africa’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
During the visit, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov delivered to Foreign Minister Mekonnen a letter from President Putin to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in which Moscow’s political and economic support for Addis Ababa was reaffirmed and its commitment to facilitating the resolution of tensions with Egypt over the issue related to the GERD dam (https://ethiopianmonitor.com/2022/07/27/ethiopia-russia-agree-to-further-cement-bilateral-ties/) was reiterated.
The meetings were described as cordial and fruitful by Minister Meles, who also reported on an upcoming Ethiopia-Russia conference.