Former ambassador defends Russian deputy PM’s visit to Namibia

Yury Trutnev

Namibia’s former ambassador to the United States Tuliameni Kalomoh says there is nothing wrong with the Russian deputy prime minister Yury Trutnev visiting Namibia on Friday, as both countries strengthen bilateral relations amid a push by the West to isolate president Vladmir Putin.

The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation yesterday confirmed that Trutnev will co-chair the Namibia-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation with deputy minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Russia continues to be locked in the Ukrainian conflict which started on 24 February 2022 with a Putin-led invasion.

“I think Namibia doesn’t need to demonstrate anything to anybody. I think it is quite in order for Namibia to host the Russian deputy prime minister and seek to strengthen relationships between the two countries which are long standing,” Kalomoh said, who is also a former assistant secretary general in the United Nations (UN) department of political affairs responsible for Africa and the UN Security Council.

Namibia and a host of other African countries have refused to condemn Putin, with president Hage Geingob affirming that Namibia maintains a position of neutrality amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“Our history also teaches us where we were and who was with us.

“You are putting it like we are doing it to help you to escape from other problems but we are doing it because we are interested in developing our country. We have the resources and you have the means and everything,” he said at the start of this year at the signing of a N$437 million bilateral cooperation deal with the EU.

United Democratic Movement parliamentarian Dudu Murorua also welcomed the visit, suggesting it sends a clear message to the West that Russia has not been isolated altogether due to the war in Ukraine.

“I think the bilateral relationship between Russia and Namibia is so far so good. The fight between Russia and the Western bloc is a different story. Even if the Western bloc wants us to submit to them, I personally and my party do not condone what the Western nations are saying because Russia has so far and all the years before independence been supporting Namibia,” said Murorua.

There are, however, suspicions that there will be behind-the-scenes talks on the ongoing impasse surrounding a contentious uranium exploration project in the Stampriet basin.

Russia’s state Atomic Energy Agency, Rosatom, was granted a uranium exploration licence through its Namibian subsidiary, One Uranium (Headspring Investments). However the company’s exploration activities failed to take off due to fears the project may contaminate underground water.

The parliamentary standing committee on natural resources recently visited the community to hear their concerns.

“I am sure that man is coming to discuss the uranium agenda… Geingob is flying out of the window with his green hydrogen project and I have been informed that Nandi-Ndaitwah and her clique are interested in uranium.

“Kandjoze and James Mnyupe might lose out because the likes of Netumbo, Veikko Nekundi are trying to get rich from uranium,” said Landless People’s Movement deputy leader Henny Seibeb.

Nekkundi and Nandi-Ndaitwah’s phones were unreachable for a comment yesterday before going to print.

During the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg, Putin pledged to provide tens of thousands of tonnes of grain to African leaders as a gesture, highlighting Moscow’s commitment to global food security.

He expressed Russia’s readiness to step in for Ukrainian grain exports to Africa, aiming to address the challenges posed by Western sanctions that have made it difficult for Moscow to export its grain and fertilisers.

Putin also emphasised Russia’s willingness to support Africa both commercially and through aid, underscoring what he sees as the country’s vital role in ensuring worldwide food stability.

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