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16 May, 2024 14:00

Russia has always been present in Africa – envoy

Moscow is set to reopen an embassy in Sierra Leone after a 30-year absence
Russia has always been present in Africa – envoy

The reopening of a Russian embassy in Sierra Leone will significantly strengthen the bonds between the two nations, Freetown’s ambassador to Moscow, Mohamed Yongawo, has said in an exclusive interview with RT. 

Speaking on the sidelines of ‘Russia – Islamic World: KazanForum 2024’, Yongawo emphasized the historical depth of the relationship between Russia and African nations, including Sierra Leone.  

“Russia has always been in Africa. Let’s say during the Soviet Union. Russia, being the proverbial eminent of the Soviet Union, is just probably returning to their base,” he explained. 

Yongawo recalled that prior to the civil war in Sierra Leone in 1991-2002, Russia had an embassy in Freetown which had operated from 1963 until September 1992. 

In an interview last August with RIA Novosti, Yongawo mentioned that the reopening of the embassy would be particularly beneficial for Sierra Leoneans, especially students, who previously had to travel to Guinea to obtain Russian visas. 

On May 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed plans to open an embassy in Sierra Leone by the end of 2024.  

At a press conference in Moscow with his Sierra Leonean counterpart, Timothy Musa Kabba, Lavrov emphasized that the decision has already been made to establish a new Russian mission in Freetown, and that both parties are working on the details. 

Russia and Sierra Leone established diplomatic relations in 1962. 

On Tuesday, Kazan, capital of Russia’s Tatarstan Republic, hosted ‘Russia – Islamic World: KazanForum 2024,’ a major event focused on promoting business opportunities, investment, science, technology, and tourism, which will continue until May 19. Last year, the forum hosted more than 16,000 visitors from 80 countries.