The Namibian government is monitoring and following developments closely regarding rising tension between Ukraine and Russia.
In a statement this week, the international relations ministry said it takes courage from the fact that Russian leader Vladimir Putin emphasised his country would not invade Ukraine, as it was confirmed in a diplomatic briefing in Moscow.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are at their highest in years, with a Russian troops build-up near the mutual border in recent weeks spurring fears that Moscow could launch an invasion.
The conflict between the two countries escalated in late 2013 over a landmark political and trade deal with the European Union.
In March 2014, Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s Crimean region, before formally annexing the peninsula after Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation in a local referendum. “The Namibian government, as a matter of principle, believes and advocates for a peaceful resolution of any political conflict globally, anchored on respect of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations,” said the ministry of international relations’ executive director (ED), Penda Naanda.
Namibia’s position is guided by Article 96 of the Namibian constitution, which encourages the settlement of international disputes through peaceful means. He, therefore, called on all parties involved to resolve the conflict through a peaceful dialogue.
“Namibia’s embassy in Moscow, which is also accredited to Ukraine, is collaborating with the embassy of South Africa in Ukraine and other SADC missions in Russia accredited to Ukraine,” Naanda said. The commotion between the two countries has instilled fear in Namibians studying in Ukraine, with many demanding that the government evacuates them.
A meeting between Namibia’s ambassador to Russia and Ukraine Clemens Kashuupulwa and Namibians studying in Ukraine on Monday left many in a state of uncertainty after the ambassador informed them that the Namibian government has made no arrangements for their evacuation, should war between the two host countries break out.
“The situation here is getting tense, and we are panicking because when we had a meeting with our embassy in Russia this week, they said there are no plans to evacuate us. If there is anything, we are on our own, and if we want to leave, it will be at our own cost,” complained a Namibian student in Ukraine, who asked not to be named.
Despite these complaints, the ED said the South African ambassador assured his Namibian counterpart that the situation in Kiev remains calm, and that South Africa has no plans to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine yet.
“The embassy is in close contact with the Namibian students in Ukraine. During the last virtual meeting between the
ambassador of Namibia accredited to Russia and Ukraine and the leadership of the students in Ukraine, which took place on 14 February 2022, the students were informed that the mission would assist with consular arrangements should a student wish to return home,” Naanda stated.