Ethiopia breaks silence over reports of Russia’s recruitment in Addis

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Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by the Ukrainian forces on a roadside in Lugansk region on February 26, 2022. Russian Embassy in Addis denies reports that Ethiopians are queuing to be recruited to fight for Moscow in the war in Ukraine. PHOTO | AFP

The Ethiopian Government on Wednesday said it welcomes the statement issued by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Addis Ababa refuting the “unfounded” reports of the recruitment of Ethiopians to join the Russian Armed Forces.

According to Ethiopia report, Addis Ababa, which supported Russia at the UN Security Council with regard to war on Ukraine, has been silent over the matter for days until the Russian embassy in Ethiopia officially issued a statement on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Russian Embassy has clarified that it has not been accepting any Ethiopian applications for recruitment and that it abides by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“The Government of Ethiopia agrees with the Embassy that any such recruitment would have violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as it would have been contrary to the functions of a diplomatic mission.” The ministry added.

“It would have also violated this Convention with respect to the obligation of diplomatic missions to respect the laws and regulations of the host State, as any such recruitment by any Embassy or enlistment of any Ethiopian would have violated Ethiopian law.”

Since Monday, the Russian embassy in Addis Ababa has been flooded by hundreds young Ethiopians, including ex-soldiers, who reportedly wanted to join Russian troops in Ukraine.

Ethiopians continued to queue at the embassy for a third day Wednesday. The queues since Monday and interviews of some of the people queuing elicited reports that the Ethiopians were there to be recruited to fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.

Speaking to the Turkish News agency, Anadolu, one of the applicants, ex-soldier,

Corporal Tarekegn Wassie, said “I heard that registration was ongoing at the embassy. Some said it was employment for Russian private security companies, others said it was to join in support of the Russian army. Either way, I am here trying my luck.”

“I love Russia and if it brought me a better income let it be regardless of the risks involved,” said Tarekegn.

Others said their motive to enlist was more economic than wanting to join the war in Ukraine.

The Russian embassy, however, says the youth are not there for a recruitment but to show their solidarity with Russia.

Since the beginning of the Russian operation in Ukraine, the embassy has been receiving emails and in-person visits from citizens of Ethiopia to express their solidarity and support for the Russian Federation, the Embassy said in a statement Tuesday.

“We regard it as another manifestation of the unbreakable bonds of brotherly friendship and mutual support between the two peoples,” adds the statement seen by The EastAfrican.

“We thank all Ethiopian friends for the kind words they addressed to our country. We are sincerely grateful to the Government of Ethiopia for the support extended to the Russian Federation at the United Nations during voting on Ukraine-related resolutions and look forward to continuing our cooperation with regard to this and other issues.”

The statement said the embassy strictly complies with the provisions of its own national legislation and the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations, according to which recruitment of foreign nationals in the Armed Forces of the Russian federation is not within the scope of the diplomatic mission’s activities.

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