South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on Thursday, affirming their commitment to strengthening their bilateral relationship in various sectors, with a particular focus on energy and trade, including the crucial oil industry.
During their meeting, President Putin and President Kiir discussed political and security matters in South Sudan, which is making preparations for its inaugural presidential election in December 2024. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and President Kiir has been at the helm of the country since then.
In a video of their public statements shared by the Kremlin, President Putin expressed his belief that the development of oil refineries in South Sudan, with the involvement of Russian companies, would serve to bolster the ties between the two nations. He emphasized that this was just the beginning and that there were numerous opportunities for collaboration, particularly in the energy sector.
Presently, Russia’s Safinat Group is already involved in the construction of an oil refinery in South Sudan’s Unity state.
Russia’s invitation to President Kiir to visit Moscow coincides with a time when global powers are seeking support from African nations regarding Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
South Sudan is facing pressure from the United States and other allies to accelerate the implementation of a peace agreement signed in 2018, which aimed to end a five-year civil war and pave the way for the upcoming election.
On its part, South Sudan desires the removal of arms embargoes. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia has the potential to assist in this regard.
President Kiir underscored the importance of having strong allies, stating that “the world dictates that no one can survive or succeed alone.” He expressed gratitude to President Putin, declaring that South Sudan needed “strong friends,” with Russia being one of them.
In addition to energy and trade, the leaders also discussed peace and security in Africa, as well as international affairs. The conflict in Sudan, South Sudan’s neighboring country, has resulted in a significant influx of refugees into South Sudan, further straining its already limited humanitarian and other resources.
This marks President Kiir’s second visit to Russia, with his first visit taking place during the inaugural Russia-Africa summit in 2019.
President Putin assured President Kiir of Russia’s commitment to support South Sudan in managing its domestic political situation and ensuring security. He pledged that Russia would do everything possible to assist in these areas.
As South Sudan continues its journey toward stability and development, its deepening ties with Russia offer potential avenues for collaboration and support across various sectors, with the energy industry playing a vital role in the bilateral relationship.