Maputo, 27 May (AIM) – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday told AIM he sees a promising future for relations between Ukraine and Mozambique.
Speaking in Maputo at the end of his first ever visit to Mozambique, Kuleba said “we see many opportunities for developing trade relations that will be good for both peoples”.
The two countries had agreed to set up a business forum, and Kuleba said Ukraine is “very open” to business prospects. He forecast the export to Mozambique not only of Ukrainian grain, but also of processed foods and of pharmaceutical products.
He believed Ukraine could also assist Mozambique in cyber-security. “We have vast experience in repelling cyber-attacks”, he remarked.
Kuleba stressed that Ukraine plans to open an embassy in Mozambique before the end of this year. He was sure that a building and basic staff for the new embassy would be ready by then.
On Friday Kuleba was received both by President Filipe Nyusi and by his Mozambican counterpart, Veronica Macamo. Nyusi, he said, “expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine”.
As for ending the Russian war against Ukraine, Kuleba did not believe that negotiations are the answer “when there is clearly an aggressor, and a country that is fighting for its freedom”.
One of Russia’s propaganda coups in Africa, he said, was the deliberate confusion between the current Russian Federation and the former Soviet Union. Pro-Russian apologists frequently claim that Russia supported African struggles against colonial rule – but Kuleba pointed out that in the days of the Soviet Union, Ukraine also had a seat at the United Nations, “where we worked tirelessly against apartheid and in favour of decolonization”.
The many Soviet citizens who worked in Mozambique in the post independence years were not all Russians, said Kuleba. Many Ukrainians had worked in training the Mozambican armed forces, as engineers and in various other capacities.
In any case, Russian claims of friendship were belied by the current acts of the Putin government. “Imagine you had a friend who used to help you, but this friend turned into a criminal, murdering and rapid people. You would probably no longer consider him your friend”, said Kuleba.
As for the frequent claim that the conflict in Ukraine is “a proxy war” between the United States and Russia, fought on Ukrainian soil, Kuleba declared that this was just more propaganda. He recalled that in the early days of the war, the Russian government believed that Ukraine was weak and could be overwhelmed “by the almighty Russian army” in a few days.
But when Russia lost battles, its government had to explain defeat to the Russian people, and so it claimed that it was fighting not Ukraine, but the United States.
Ukraine had, of course, obtained weapons from its American and European allies, but had never asked for any foreign troops. “In reality, Russia is fighting against Ukrainians, and we will never ask other countries to send their troops. This is our war”, said Kuleba.
Just as Mozambique had fought for its freedom, “so we are fighting”, he added. “And just like Mozambique, we shall prevail”.
The contempt shown by the Russian government towards the Ukrainian army, was similar to the contempt shown by the Portuguese regime towards the Mozambican freedom fighters. “Yet you won, and we shall win”, said Kuleba.
He declined to speculate on when the war might end. “My job is to make every effort to bring victory closer”, he said. “When you are attacked in the street, you do not say ‘I will only fight for a few minutes’. You fight as long as necessary”.
Kuleba stressed that Ukraine has no intention of surrendering any of its territory – not even the Crimean Peninsula, occupied by Russia since 2014. Nor was it prepared to accept a “frozen conflict”, whereby a ceasefire line remains in effect for the foreseeable future.
Kuleba pointed out that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had made proposals for a peace plan in the early days of the war, based on respect for the United Nations Charter, but Russia had refused to consider them
“It is the Ukrainian plan that should be taken as the basis for a settlement”, he said.
As for the possibility of the conflict spreading to other parts of Europe, Kuleba thought this unlikely as long as Ukraine continues to resist. “Putin cannot defeat Ukraine, and so he is in no position to fight any other country”, he said.