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Thursday, 25 September 2014 13:31

Russia Gives Condition for Military Aid to Nigeria

By Oghogho Obayuwana

LAGOS, Nigeria, Sept 25, 2014 (The Guardian) -- IN Nigeria's quest to surmount its security challenges, Russia is open to an invitation by the Federal Government to raise its military assistance. But the increase in military collaboration, according to the Russian envoy to Nigeria, Amb. Nikolay Udovichenko, can be helped by a proposal by the Nigerian side stating exactly what its needs are.

In an interview with The Guardian on what his country is doing with Nigeria on the fight against terrorism, among others, he said Russia was encouraged by the fact that the Federal Government had openly invited friendly countries to help deal with insurgency.

Udovichenko stressed: "...Russia always stands for Nigeria in this struggle. Every year we provide different trainings and courses in Russia for Nigerian police officers, but of course we understand that a lot can be and should be done to promote our bilateral collaboration in the security sphere to a higher level. In this connection we are ready to carefully consider any proposal from the Nigerian government including providing additional trainings, weapons, ammunition etc. to strengthen our ties in this crucial aspect of our interaction."

Media reports indicate that efforts to procure arms from Russia have not been successful owing to a slight weakness in the Nigerian-Russia diplomatic relations over Nigeria's stance on Ukraine at the United Nations.

But the envoy countered: "We see no reason why the situation around Ukraine should have a negative impact on our relations with Nigeria which is traditionally a good friend and partner of Russia. Anyway, we respect the position of Nigeria in relation to international affairs, even if it does not coincide with our vision and problems. My personal principle in this regard is that whoever is not against us is for us. So, we are ready for the wide cooperation with Nigeria, we stay good and reliable companions for the interaction in different fields. I see no problems or any tensions in cooperation between our countries because of Ukraine. But of course we will be really glad if Nigeria will consider more clearly the situation about the crisis in Ukraine, its roots and negative influence on the future."

He spoke further: "At this time, Russia wants to express her solidarity with the Federal Government, with the Nigerian people in their fight against terrorism, because we know what it is, we know how it is difficult to overcome such challenges...We know the huge potential of Nigeria and an outstanding role of your country on the African continent. I hope that the cooperation with international community including Russia will promote this aim. I can assure you that I will do my best to expand the bilateral relations in different fields including security, trade, scientific, cultural and education spheres..."

Asked what kind of understanding Russia wants from a country like Nigeria on the international politics over Ukraine, he simply said: "Objectiveness."

On the intricacies in defeating Boko Haram, he said: "No doubt that the problem of Boko Haram is really hard and unfortunately there is no quick solution. International terrorism is a complex issue of different dimensions. For governments it is crucial to demonstrate determination in the fight against terrorism. At the same time, there is another important task related to developing the social system, creating economic opportunities and jobs especially for young people. In this regard we are also definitely ready to assist Nigeria in all possible ways. In order to facilitate the economic relations, which can boost economic development of Nigeria, we are reopening the Russian trade mission in Abuja."

Maintaining that a Russian trade mission would soon be reopened in Nigeria as a sign of the willingness of Moscow to make relations between the two countries more strategic, he also allayed the fear that the ongoing international politics has already affected Russia's cooperation with Nigeria in the area of space and satellite technology, and an earlier understanding on military hardware.

"The answer is definitely no. There is no negative implication on it. We continue our mutually beneficial cooperation with Nigeria in these and many other fields and are prepared to further strengthen our interaction with your great country. As for the Nigerian side I believe you are also ready for it. Using this opportunity I wish Nigerian people peace, security and prosperity.... As for the trade mission, I do really hope that it will start functioning next year. As soon as it happens I believe our bilateral cooperation in economic and trade spheres will gain a new and significant momentum."

The envoy also shed more light on the crisis in Ukraine, including factors that fuel the conflict in the region.

"In order to understand the situation in Ukraine and around, it is necessary to look at the problem in its genesis and in the context of the global situation. New centres of power are being established which shape the future development of the world and not everybody likes it. It is always difficult for a state in modern history to adopt new reality. Look at the crisis in Iraq, Libya, Syria - it is not Russia that unleashed these conflicts. Ukraine is a logical link in this chain. We are just responding to the actions made by those who accuse us of the crisis in Ukraine. Interference in the internal affairs of a state, double standards in foreign policy and human rights are just a few among the instruments of these powers for trying to keep the full control over the world...Let me give you an example. When there is a crisis in Yemen or Sudan, all western countries including the USA begin to appeal and urge the confronting sides to start the negotiation process and try to find peaceful solutions. With Ukraine it is really extremely surprising, but there were no calls from the EU and the United States to the Ukrainian government to sit down and start talking to Ukrainian people who openly express their disagreement with the policy of the government that grabbed power in a de facto coup d'etat. Unfortunately by such silence the western countries urge Kiev authorities to continue attacks and bombardments of the cities in the Eastern Ukraine. Some hope for the establishment of a peaceful dialogue and solution emerged after the meeting between Presidents of Russia and Ukraine in Minsk on September 5, 2014."

The envoy explained the more likely Russian response to sanctions and proposed rapprochement during discussions at the United Nations General Assembly Meeting and Security Council this week.

Udovichenko said: "Attempts to settle crisis by unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the UN Security Council decisions threaten and contradict norms and principles of the international law. I would like also to stress that it is absolutely unacceptable to talk to Russia - and anyone, for that matter - in the language of ultimatums and coercive measures. At the same time our counter-actions in response to unilateral steps have been balanced and are in line with the rights and obligations of Russia under international treaties, including WTO. It is not our choice, but there should be no doubt that we will do whatever is necessary to protect our legitimate interests, including the interests of national security in all dimensions. That was the basis of our decision to ban import of agricultural and food products from several states which had adopted sectoral economic sanctions against Russia. But Russia does not want to proceed along the road of escalation. We hope that the USA, the European Union and others hear the voice of reason and put an end to this meaningless tit-for-tat vicious circle."

On why Russia is apparently not perturbed by the sanctions, the envoy said: "So far, there wasn't a really big effect of the sanctions. But, of course, if we speak about technology or finance it will affect bilateral cooperation. It is easier to develop standing on different legs. But for the same time there are positives for us, because we relied too much on Western partners so far and now we have to develop our own potential to find opportunities for better cooperation with other countries. The world is polycentric today. For instance, there is an organisation called BRICS with Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They are big emerging economies and can do a lot for creating more equal and fair world..."

(This article was originally published in The Guardian)


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