Are Ethiopians joining Russian army to fight Ukrainians?

Russian soldiers boarding a transport plane, Kaliningrad, Russia, September 2021 - File Photo

MOSCOW, Russia - Long queues have been witnessed in the past few weeks within the Russian Embassy in Addis Ababa, triggering sharp reactions on social media with critics claiming a number of Ethiopians could be registering to join the Russian army.

For about two months, Russia has been confronting Ukraine, leading to condemnation around the world as sanctions bite Moscow for its "improper" attitude. Both sides, reports indicate, have suffered casualties.

With most countries standing in solidarity with Russia, there have been questions about the future of Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin is increasingly getting isolated from the rest of the world due to his "confrontational attitude".

On Monday, Russian Embassy in Addis Ababa denied reports that Ethiopians queuing on the premises were joining the Russian army. On the contrary, the embassy says the people lining up there are standing in solidarity with the increasingly isolated European powerhouse.

Russian embassy Press attaché Maria Chernukhina told AlAin website that “Russia has not advertised to recruit Ethiopians for the war in Ukraine, and the information circulation on social media is false.” But she said it was true that Ethiopians had gone to the embassy “to show their solidarity with Russia.”

Further, she insisted many Ethiopians were sending emails and delivering messages in person in support of Russians who are at war with Ukraine. According to her, the messages also thank Russia. Ethiopia is seemingly the only African country standing with Russia.

Meanwhile, the embassy of Ukraine in Addis Abeba informed a fact-checking website, Ethiopia Check, that “this is a tragic happening. If an Ethiopian dies in this war, it will be a tragedy for both Ukraine and Ethiopia, Ukraine said in a statement.

Back at home, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is struggling to contain internal rifts including the Tigray war which has left thousands of people dead. The war, which involves Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Tigray Defense Forces, started in November 2020.

Already, World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom says despite the declaration of a humanitarian truce in the country, only a few trucks have been allowed to deliver food to Tigray. The Ethiopian government insists it's cooperating with other agencies to deliver the much-needed aid.

Ethiopia is also battling inter-tribe conflicts, especially in Oromia and Amhara regions. Eritrea troops are also believed to be fighting alongside the Ethiopian army in the Tigray region, leading to condemnation from both the US and other important stakeholders in the country.


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