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Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visits Burundi

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Burundian Foreign Minister Albert Shingiro pose for a photo prior to their talks in Bujumbura on Tuesday, May 30, 2023   -  
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AP/Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service


Burundi reaffirmed its "neutrality" on the conflict in Ukraine on Tuesday, saying that "no one can win this war", during a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

In February, Burundi, an African country in the Great Lakes region, abstained from voting on the latest UN General Assembly resolution calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.

In all, 22 of the 54 member states of the African Union abstained or took no part in the vote, and two countries - Eritrea and Mali - voted against.

"We have taken an abstentionist position, a position of neutrality, of non-alignment to prevent this conflict from reaching other regions, notably Africa, we need to mitigate the impact of this conflict, (...) and this is the position of most African countries on this issue," said Albert Shingiro, Burundi's Foreign Minister, at a press conference in Bujumbura, in the presence of his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

"There is no one who can win this war," Mr. Shingiro also asserted.

"We highly appreciate Burundi's balanced and responsible position, and above all the fact that Burundi understands the root causes of this conflict," said Sergei Lavrov, continuing: "We also talked about the need to reform the UN Security Council, and the fact that Africa is not sufficiently represented."

Mr. Lavrov's visit to Kenya on Monday follows a trip by his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kouleba to several African countries, including Ethiopia and Rwanda, last week.

Moscow and Kiev are seeking to increase their respective influence on the African continent.

Mr. Lavrov has already visited Africa twice since the start of the war in Ukraine at the end of February 2022, on tours of several countries.

For his part, Mr. Kouleba last week called on some of the continent's countries to end their "neutrality" on the war in Ukraine, and also said he wanted to strengthen Kiev's ties with a continent with a population of 1.3 billion, notably by announcing the opening of new embassies.

Russia's ties with African countries date back to the Cold War, when the Soviet Union presented itself as a fighter against imperialism.

A Russia-Africa summit, the second of its kind, is scheduled for July 26-29 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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