"Putin is right on Ukraine", says Uganda's Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, first senior army officer in Africa to publicly show support for Russia

    Uganda’s Land Forces Commander, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has weighed in on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying President Vladmir Putin was right to take action in Ukraine.

    “The majority of mankind (that are non-white) support Russia’s stand in Ukraine,” said Gen Muhoozi on Monday morning.

    “Putin is absolutely right! When the USSR parked nuclear armed missiles in Cuba in 1962 the West was ready to blow up the world over it. Now when NATO does the same they expect Russia to do differently?” he wondered.

    Muhoozi is the first senior army officer in Africa to publicly show support for Russia which the West accuses of belligerence and planning to destroy Ukraine.

    Russia last week began striking military targets in Ukraine days after recognizing the independence of the two breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

    Putin has previously accused Western powers of breaking promises they made not to expand NATO – the trans-Atlantic military alliance founded in 1949 specifically to counter the Soviet Empire in Europe- as the Soviet Union collapsed.

    The Russian leader accused NATO of deceiving Russia by giving assurances in the 1990s that it would not expand “an inch to the East” — promises made to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during negotiations between the West and the Soviet Union over German unification.

    Gorbachev said the agreement on a final settlement with Germany said that no new military structures would be created in the eastern part of the country; no additional troops would be deployed; no weapons of mass destruction would be placed there.

    He said what unfolded since 1990 with more countries deciding to join NATO was “a violation of the spirit of the statements and assurances made to us in 1990.”

    NATO expansion since 1990

    The issue has taken a central role as Putin ordered his armed forces towards Ukraine’s borders, most recently sending some of them into breakaway regions that Russia supports.

    “If Ukraine were to join NATO, it would serve as a direct threat to the security of Russia,” Putin said in televised remarks, during which he described Ukraine as a “springboard” for a NATO strike against Russia.

    NATO has dismissed Putin’s sense of encirclement, given Russia’s massive size that extends to the Pacific Ocean.

    However, the vast majority of the Russian population lives on the country’s European side.

    Putin had demanded binding legal guarantees that Ukraine would not join NATO which were dismissed by the West.

    Several European and North American countries including the United States, Germany, Poland, Canada and Britain among others have in recent months provided arms worth billions of dollars to support Ukraine.

    The United States and European Union accuse Russia of aggression and violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

    Gen Muhoozi, who attended military courses in the United States, Britain and China, suggested that Russia and Ukraine could soon resolve their differences.

    “As far as Russia’s ‘Special Operation’ in Ukraine is involved, I have learnt that you can never put anything beyond brothers!” said Muhoozi, who recently held talks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to restore bilateral ties with Uganda.

    “They (brothers) will always surprise you. I remember between 1990-94 we expected a war between African and Europeans in South Africa but it never happened!” said Muhoozi.

    The history and culture of Russia and Ukraine are indeed intertwined — they share the same Orthodox Christian religion, and their languages, customs and national cuisines are related.

    Delegations from Russia and Ukraine are due to begin today near the Belarus border.

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    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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