May 26, 2022
Geoffrey_Onyeama

FGN Unaware of Russian Invasion Plan

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Will wait for United Nations resolution before imposing sanctions on Russia

The Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama has defended the federal government’s delayed response in evacuating Nigerian nationals from Ukraine during a TV interview Monday.

Speaking on Channels TV Politics Today programme it was difficult to forecast the event because the government agency the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) did not know how the situation will evolve. “The majority of people did not know the Russians would invade,” he said. “Putin was saying we are not going to invade, that this is just Americans giving them a bad name as it were. The Americans withdrew their staff, the UK also (issued) a travel advisory.

“We got in touch with our embassy staff. They are in the best position to know the situation. And at every point, the ambassador said ‘no, things are calm here’. The embassies in Ukraine were also cooperating. And they were issuing joint assessments of the situation. And they were advising their people not to evacuate. Now, we didn’t know how things were going to evolve.”

Onyeama who has been foreign minister since 2015 also stated that Nigeria will not impose sanctions on Russia until a United Nations resolution is adopted. Critics are calling the Nigerian position hopeless as Russia will likely veto any sanctions resolution.

The minister insisted on TV. That Nigeria does not condone Russian military operation in Ukraine. “We made that very clear, we condemned it. First of all, military force is not the solution. We have spoken up about the territorial integrity that we recognise the integrity of Ukraine,” he said.

“As we speak, in the UN General Assembly, there is a resolution on this whole issue. Nigeria’s position on the resolution is very clear, that we do not condone this military intervention in another country.”

Military analysts are worried about a breakdown of Nigeria’s relations with Russia. Diplomatic relations with Moscow were established in 1960 and during the Civil War Moscow trained and supplied the federal forces. In the war on terror Nigeria has pending, the purchase of Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters of which six have been delivered and the agreement with Russia to train and supply the armed forces. As any sanctions Nigeria imposes on Russia will hinder the fight against Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa.

Source NAN/Channels TV

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