President Museveni is notably missing from a seven-man delegation of African leaders who are set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy to seek a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.
The other African leaders already in Poland for the mission dubbed Africa Peace Mission include: Cyril Ramaphosa, ( South Africa) Azali Assoumani,( African Union), Denis Sassou Nguesso( Congo Brazzaville), Macky Sall( Senegal)and Hakainde Hichilema from Zambia.
This website has learnt that Museveni was asked to lead the delegation that is expected in Ukraine and Russia on Friday and Saturday respectively but due to his health condition following contracting COVID-19, he has been unable, choosing rather to send former Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.
Quoting a statement by the Brazzaville Foundation, Russian state-owned TASS confirmed the development.
The countries from which the seven leaders come have taken different positions regarding the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict with Uganda,
Congo Brazzaville and South Africa were among the 32 countries that abstained from a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The resolution also demanded that Russia withdraws its troops.
In the February 2023 vote, Zambia and Egypt supported the resolution while Senegal didn’t participate.
Commenting about this vote, President Museveni recently said Uganda abstained and took a neutral position when the Russian, Ukraine issue came up for discussion at the United Nations.
“We said no, let us take a balanced position because we know all issues involved, there is nothing new, there is nothing we don’t know,” he said
Uganda has continued to state their neutrality regarding Ukraine- Russia war, with President Museveni, urging that “we are friends with everybody”.
During a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Entebbe last year, President Museveni said that Uganda would not be persuaded to be enemies with Russia.
“If Russia makes mistakes, we tell them. When they have not made mistakes, we can’t be against them,” he added, hailing Russia for backing anti-colonial African movements.
In the same year, while speaking on Zoom to the former President of Russia and current Chairman of the United Russian Party, Dmitry Medvedev, President Museveni said the only viable option out of the war was for the two parties to sit down and talk.
“We think the best way is to negotiate. This is the best way and everybody who wants peace in the world should support this so that this fighting stops and you get balanced peace that ensures safety for all,” he said.
Speaking during a virtual meeting with fellow African leaders organized by his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month, Museveni said it is high time Africa took charge of brokering the peace deal between Russia and Ukraine where other countries have failed.
“This war affects all of us and it can get worse than it is now. It is threatening world peace. Since we have our own perspective, we can share with them how we have solved our own problems here” he said.
“I think Africa has good credentials in solving problems, like that of South Africa (Apartheid), Congo, Somalia, etc.”
In February this year, Museveni held talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Zelensky.
In the first-ever conversation between the two leaders, they spoke about developing bilateral relations between the two countries in several fields.
Frustration for South African team in Poland
While the leaders prepared for the commencement of the mission, there was a major setback in Warsaw, Poland involving a South African entourage when a team of additional police officers and journalists was stopped from disembarking the plane at the airport.
As a result, press people attached to Ramaphosa and extra security detail remained in the craft overnight. Even the cargo that had been offloaded was loaded back on quickly to avoid its confiscation.
The Head of the South African Presidential Protection Services (PPS), Major General Wally Rhoode, expressed frustration over the developments, describing the Polish officials’ behaviour as “surprising” and adding that it may harm the road to peace mission aimed at a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
“They say we do not have permits, however, we do have permits, the embassy here made copies of the original permits because they thought it won’t be necessary to have originals. All of a sudden we must have originals, they are delaying us,” he said adding that Polish officials wanted to “confiscate our firearms.”
The case of Uganda
In the case of Uganda, President Museveni’s entourage which includes strictly security personnel trimmed down operations, as the principal is not available.
Reports indicate that Museveni selected a team of well-trained commandos who undertook additional tests before being dispatched to Ukraine. The team according to reports in Ukraine will now secure Rugunda who is standing in for Museveni.