Russian foreign minister visits Eritrea, an ally in its war on Ukraine
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Eritrea on Thursday for a surprise one-day visit where he met with both President Isaias Afeworki and Foreign Minister Osman Saleh.
Eritrea, an authoritarian country in the Horn of Africa, is one of just five states that voted in March 2022 against the UN resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine, along with Russia, Belarus, Syria and North Korea.
According to the Russian state news agency TASS Lavrov, who also stopped off in the Red Sea port of Massawa, said:
“I would like to mention the possibility of using the logistical potential of the Massawa port and the city’s airport. The airport of Massawa looks interesting from the point of view of its transit possibilities. Our partners are interested in the study, and we are ready to help them.”
The Red Sea is a narrow waterway that is also strategically important. At its northern end is the Suez canal, a potential choke point for cargo ships entering the Mediterranean from the Indian Ocean.
Afeworki’s regime has ruled the country, one of the most closed in the world, with an iron fist since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993.
His army is also accused of numerous abuses against the civilian population in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, where it supported the Ethiopian army against the Tigrayan rebels in a deadly conflict between November 2020 and November 2022.
These troops, present in this region since the beginning of the war, began to withdraw at the end of last week, announced the United States and the Ethiopian government.