Kenya: Russia’s expansionist move in Ukraine dangerous

Tuesday February 22 2022
Dr Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Dr Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on November 19, 2021. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenya on Monday night added its voice against Russia’s recognition of Ukrainian regions as independent, warning that this could rekindle dangerous expansions by "dead" empires.

Breach of territory

Dr Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN, told the session that Ukraine's territorial integrity had been breached, adding that Russia's move was a dangerous step that could easily be borrowed by another ambitious power.

“In our considered view, this action and announcement breaches the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he said, then ventured into how African countries had to inherit colonial powers.

“Kenya and almost every other African country were birthed by an ending empire. Our borders were not our drawing. They were drawn in a distant metropole in London, Paris and Lisbon with no regard to the ancient nations that were cleaved apart.”

Of borders and peace


In a statement issued to the UN Security Council, Nairobi said Russia must take a leaf from African countries that have had to live with artificial boundaries planned by colonial masters, for the sake of peace.

With ethnic communities cut in the middle by borders, he argued, many countries “would still be waging bloody wars many decades later” had they chosen to reclaim the original status.

Instead, the continent chose to live with the colonial borders and pursue integration while safeguarding territorial borders, he argued.

The statement came as the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Russia’s decision to declare Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent of Ukraine, sparking controversy and criticism.

That declaration added to the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by Russia, after a controversial referendum in which locals ‘chose’ to be part of Russia.

Russia has in the past two months heightened tensions with Kiev over initial military deployments at the border with Ukraine.


Kenya, a non-permanent member of the Council, had earlier abstained from a vote on whether to discuss Russia’s conduct.

Initially, Dr Kimani explained, Nairobi stayed away from the vote, which would have allowed Russia to be debated or reprimanded, to avoid raising further tensions and give “diplomacy a chance.”

“We did so to reflect our conviction that the main issue in contention here is the impasse between NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and the Russian Federation. We believe that it is imminently solvable and that the diplomatic steps underway already show promise,” the Kenyan envoy told the Council earlier in February.

“Africa recalls the rejections of compromise, and the search for total victory, that led to the Cold War. We experienced it as a series of hot wars and interventions that deeply damaged our dreams for peace, development, and competent, inclusive government.”

But on Monday, Russia said it had deployed ‘peacekeeping forces’ into Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine, a move highly criticised by Washington.


Russia and Ukraine were historically part of the Soviet Union until it collapsed in 1990. But the regions in question had been annexed, released and annexed again by today’s Russia several times in history. Under the UN, Donetsk and Luhansk are recognised as Ukraine territory.

Kenya said Russia’s bid was like “looking over backward into history with a dangerous nostalgia.”

“We must complete our recovery from embers of dead empires in a way that doesn’t plunge us back into new forms of dominion and oppression.

“We rejected irredentism and expansionism on any basis, including racial, ethnic, religious or cultural factors. We reject it again today.”

During the session,  American diplomat Rosemary A DiCarlo warned that Russia had raised the risk of conflict.

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergei Kislitsa said Russia was a “virus” for instigating war and chaos since annexing Crimea eight years ago.

“We are on our land. We owe nothing to anyone. And we will not give away anything to anyone. We are not afraid of anything or anyone.”