Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security detail camped at Entebbe Airport for several days while he visited South Africa.
By Hellen Mukiibi
ENTEBBE - Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security detail including aircrafts early this week camped at Entebbe International Airport for several days while he visited South Africa.
Security sources said Moscow used Uganda as a “rear base” for their operations while Putin joined other leaders of BRICS member states meeting in Durban for the 5th summit.
The BRICS grouping of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) were in South Africa to, among other issues, push for a possible formation of a new development bank targeting BRICS and other emerging markets.
The Sunday Vision learnt that part of Putin’s convoy including aircrafts used Entebbe on both legs while he travelled to and from Durban. In confirmation, Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Ignie Igundura described Russia’s choice to camp at Entebbe as a good performance record for Uganda. They left on Wednesday.
“There was plenty of choice for the Russian Presidents’ security team but Entebbe was selected as their alternative airport. This is not extraordinary since we have handled several high profile world delegations but hosting such a dignitary is big to us because it signifies the confidence the world has in our facilities and in our country,” he added.
The last two years have recorded several developments in ties between Uganda and Russia including: growing military relations, trade, plus co-operation in developing oil, gas and electricity sectors. Russia is one of the largest producers of oil in the world.
Last year, Uganda purchased six fighter jets from Russia at $744m. While visiting Moscow last December, President Yoweri Museveni said Uganda was working towards building its own arms industry with Russian support. During the visit, Museveni received Russia’s highest public award for being one of the eminent military-political leaders in Africa.
The Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with Uganda on October 11-12, 1962. According to reports since 2009, the economic turn over between the two countries increased 20-fold from $ 30m to over $600m.
At a public lecture at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, President Museveni criticised the arrogance of Western countries and their “imperial” aggression in Africa, calling it a “big mistake”. He cited the role of the West in the overthrow and eventual killing of Col Muammar Gaddafi.
“We salute the stand of Russia and China in opposing hegemony and imperialist practices. Progressive forces in Africa, working with Russia, China, Brazil, etc, have the capacity to contribute to world peace,” Museveni said.
Russia used Entebbe as security base