In a major diplomatic move, Kenyan President William Ruto on Tuesday held a face-to-face meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, marking his first in-person international encounter since assuming office.
The meeting, which took place against the backdrop of the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, saw President Ruto convey Kenya’s staunch support for Ukraine and its unwavering commitment to a global order built upon rules and principles.
Kenya’s support for Ukraine is not merely rhetorical. Our voting policy at the UN has seen the country support resolutions not favoring Russia.
President Zelensky expressed Ukraine’s dedication to establishing a grain hub in the strategic port of Mombasa. This grain hub is poised to play a pivotal role in addressing food shortages across the East African region, aligning with Kenya’s vision of regional food security.
For Ukraine, this signifies the expansion of its international partnerships in a time of adversity., especially in the African continent where countries have been fence sitting.
Moreover, the meeting highlights Kenya’s emergence as an influential voice on the global stage. At the height of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Kenya’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, delivered a message that resonated deeply amid the crisis.
His words addressed not only the immediate conflict but also touched upon broader themes of historical legacies and the changing dynamics of global power.
Kenya’s offer of support, both diplomatic and practical to Ukraine, will likely irritate Russia, which deployed longest-serving Foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov to Nairobi in late May this year.
And like a good guest, the Russian minister came bearing gifts.
Lavrov, who showed up unannounced, met President Ruto at State House, Nairobi, and offered him 34,000 tons of Russian fertilizer, ‘free of charge’.
But Ukraine also dangled a carrot, they donated 30,000 metric tonnes of wheat to assist families impacted by drought and famine.
The Ukrainian Foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, visited Nairobi in October last year- and received a cold reception from President Ruto, who was just barely new in power.
Kuleba had sought a one-on-one meeting with the Kenyan leader but was granted phone audience.
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