Beijing, China– During his trip to Beijing for the Belt and Road Initiative forum, President William Ruto has had to tread carefully in terms of diplomacy.
An encounter with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on the sidelines has raised the stakes in Ruto’s diplomatic game.
During this unplanned meeting, President Vucic expressed Belgrade’s deep doubts and displeasure with Kenya’s recent Kosovo-related actions.
Kenya’s recognition of Kosovan passports and its openness to recognizing Kosovo as an independent state has raised eyebrows in Serbia, a nation staunchly opposed to Kosovo’s sovereignty.
Sources indicate that President Vucic lobbied fervently against Kenya’s decisions and appealed to President Ruto not to recognize Kosovo as an independent nation.
Furthermore, he expressed hope that Ruto would soon visit Serbia.
Vucic stated, “I had a very long conversation with President Ruto, and I think we understood each other well on the matter of respecting international public law. You can never speak in someone else’s name, but as far as we are concerned, I think we did a good job, and we expect him to come to Belgrade soon.”
The encounter was undoubtedly significant, considering the tensions between Serbia and Kosovo and Kenya’s emerging role.
President Ruto in September met with the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, during the UN General Assembly.
Kosovo, a breakaway state, isn’t universally recognized, which complicates the matter.
In a family image taken during the State Banquet held at the Great Hall of the People, President Ruto was positioned behind the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and their Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
During his Presidential campaign, Ruto had been vocal in his criticism of Chinese loans, raising concerns about the country’s debt burden and the terms of the agreements.
Kenya now appears to be taking a more pragmatic approach to its relationship with China even though his foreign policy at the beginning of his tenure seemed to ‘look west’.
Kenya’s Support for Ukraine
During the recent United Nations General Assembly, held against the backdrop of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, President Ruto strongly declared Kenya’s support for Ukraine.
He underlined Kenya’s unwavering commitment to a global order built upon established rules and principles. This declaration wasn’t mere rhetoric; Kenya’s voting behavior at the UN has seen Nairobi consistently support resolutions that did not favor Russia.
To Russia, Ruto has a debt dating back to the first term of the UhuRuto administration during his indictment at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Russia and China sitting at the United Nations Security Council, had a role in vetoing any referrals.
Kenya sent emissaries to Moscow and Beijing to ensure the two capitals did not support any motion to deny Kenya a hearing on the issue of the ICC in the Security Council and to make sure that the body rejected any prosecution and interference with the Kenyan political process.
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