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MBABANE – The Russian Government says it stands ready to assist Eswatini in strengthening the security of the kingdom and its armed force.

This was the response that was given by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Eswatini, Alexander Surikov, during a press conference held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Mbabane yesterday. This reporter had asked the ambassador if his country had army personnel training army recruits at Mbuluzi Army Barracks. The ambassador was also asked if his country, by any chance, would assist the kingdom if it needed assistance to strengthen security as well as the army in times of need.


In response, the ambassador said that would depend on discussions the two countries might have. He stated that in any case, it was always up to the Ministry of Defence to develop a method it would like to use to strengthen its military force. Surikov said if the need arose for the defence wing to reach out to the Russian Federation Defence, they would gladly assist.
“If you need help, why not? It is possible and open for discussion (sic),” he said. He explained that for them to reach that point, the governments, in terms of the ministers, could discuss if really there was a need to assist.


“It is not up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the other ministries like the defence ministries in both countries. We are friends with Eswatini, therefore, what it needs, we can be of great use,” he said. The ambassador clarified that at the moment, the two countries had not engaged in those talks, therefore, there were no Russian troops that were in the country training army officers or recruits. He said the only training that existed between the two countries in terms of army training personnel were the existing ones. He stated that there were army officers who were undergoing military training in Russia but could not disclose the number. “We are not preparing any attacks but we are training professionals,” said. He explained that these officers should not be singled out from the other professionals who were studying in Russian universities. He explained that almost every year, the Russian Federation availed higher learning scholarships for emaSwati who would like to further their education in Russia, in fields such as Medicine, Engineering, Education among others, including the army. Surikov said the army training was not a special case as being a soldier was a profession like any other.


Government Spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo was asked if government was looking at  utilising the assistance that might be offered by the Russian Federation, but he referred all questions to the national security service (army), which he said knew its respective needs and how they could be met. The Public Affairs Officer of Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF), 2nd Lieutenant Tengetile Khumalo, said this was outside the ambit of UEDF. “Unfortunately such issues fall outside the ambit of the UEDF,” she said. Meanwhile, the ambassador also clarified the misconceptions about the ongoing Russian and Ukraine situation. Surikov said the entire world had been misinformed by the western media about the Russian operation in Ukraine. He stated that the situation between Russia and Ukraine was not a war, but an operation. The ambassador said it was unfortunate that the operation was taking longer yet it was only meant for a shorter period of time.


He explained that the Russian troops were only protecting their borderlines from Europeans, whom he alleged wanted to invade Russia. The ambassador said Ukraine was Russia and there were Ukrainians who spoke the same languages and had the same beliefs as the Russian people. “We are only protecting our Russian people from invaders,” he said. Surikov said it was sad to note that Russia had been painted as an alien to the entire world. He said Russia was a peaceful nation that believed in protecting people from invaders and liberating them.
Testiment to that, Surikov said Russia supported a number of African countries to be liberated and gained independence. He said for that reason, they would not wage war to the people of Ukraine because they were one with them.

He also stated that Ukraine was never a country to begin with, but a borderline. The ambassador explained that the word Ukraine was a Russian name for borderline. He said they noted that there were parties of the world that were fighting Russia, who were using the borderline which is Ukraine to gain access to Russia. While they did so, Surikov said they abused Russian people along the borderline and impossed all forms of restrictions. He said it was unfortunate that while they were carrying on with the operation, some people were injured along the way. The ambassador maintained that Russia was a peaceful nation and was ready to strengthen the relation it had with African countries including Eswatini, in all sectors.

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