By David Himbara
On June 3, 2018, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov made a one-day working visit to Rwanda. Evidently, Lavrov was well-received by President Paul Kagame and his government. We know this by the statements made by the two sides at the end of Lavrov’s visit. The Rwandan side made the following statement:
“Rwanda has offered to be the channel of communication for Russia…for this region.”
The Russian foreign minister Lavrov immediately accepted the offer:
“We believe that Rwanda which has dealt with the very tragic experience can now and has reached the sustainable development…can make a major contribution in promotion of all Russia’s prospects on the continent.”
Lavrov also highlighted the fact that Russia and Rwanda already have strong military ties. These ties will shortly include air defense systems. These, too, will be purchased from Russia. In addition, the two sides are considering joint efforts in the field of atomic energy. The Russian foreign minister described Russia-Rwanda collaboration as follows:
”We indeed have fairly good cooperation in the military and technical sphere. The Rwandan security forces, army and law-enforcement agencies operate our helicopters. There are also Ural vehicles used by the army and the security service and a whole bunch of small arms. Now the deliveries of air defense systems are being discussed…Russia and Rwanda are also interested in implementing joint projects for the peaceful use of atomic energy.”
So which way is Kagame headed?
Kagame’s foreign policy is becoming harder and harder to understand. From 1994 to 2016, Kagame was the darling of the Anglo-American world. With most of his former supporters out of influential positions in the United States, Kagame seems to be hunting for a new master. Kagame is trying hard to normalize relations with France. And now he is looking even further to the east. We wait to see how he might play Russia’s frontman in Africa and the benefits thereof.