The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr.
Geoffrey Onyeama, has met with the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexei Shebarshin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Kirdoda Valeri over the raging conflict between their countries and the need to evacuate Nigerians living there.
Onyeama, met with the envoys separately behind closed doors in Abuja, Nigeria.
This is as Mr.
Onyeama, also met with Envoys of the G7 countries in Nigeria, expressing worries over the Russian-Ukraine conflict with a call for peace to resolve the conflict.
The Minister stressed at the meeting with the Envoys that the Nigerian government insists on the use of diplomacy in resolving all differences, pointing out that Nigeria does not condone the approach of aggression by Russia, calling on Russia to pull back her troops.
“Peace and diplomacy should be prioritised by both sides.
We support every effort being made to stop the aggression and for Russian troops to return to Russia,” Onyeama said.
After his meeting with Shebarshin, the Russian envoy, Mr.
Onyeama told the media that he told him that Nigeria as a country would not condone the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, a United Nations member state, a country with which Nigeria has diplomatic relations.
Diplomacy And Dialogue
The minister told Shebarshin that Nigeria wanted Russia to revert to the status quo before the military action and to prioritise diplomacy and dialogue.
“This is really the position of the government and also, that we have 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine and we are very concerned about what we are hearing and what we are seeing regarding missiles and bombs about the safety of Nigerian citizens there and also that we would like to be able to evacuate them.
“He (the Russian envoy) said that this would be communicated to his headquarters and that obviously, they consider Nigeria a friendly country.
“The Russian envoy also said that they would do nothing to harm Nigerians and assured me that their action is targeted at military installations and that they are not about to start attacking civilian areas and so forth,” the minister said.
Onyeama stated that the Russian envoy insisted that civilians were not being targeted and that hopefully, it won’t last long.
Speaking after his meeting with the Ukrainian envoy, Mr.
Onyeama said the Nigerian government sympathised with Ukraine regarding its situation as a country and as a people, in view of the heavy bombardment, which has led to loss of lives.
Onyeama said he told the Ukrainian envoy that Nigeria has more than 5,000 students and other citizens in the country and was very concerned about their safety and welfare.
He said, “I told the Ukrainian envoy that we want the cooperation of the Government of Ukraine to do whatever is possible to ensure their safety and security and to also seek advice as to how the evacuation can be facilitated.
Onyeama also said the envoy told him that the Ukrainian government has given all the residents and civilians, specific instructions about how to stay safe and the measures to take.
He said the Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine would also act as a coordinating mechanism in reaching out to all Nigerians in Ukraine and ensure that they adhered to all the advice and directives.
Evacuation of Nigerians
On the evacuation of Nigerians in Ukraine, Onyeama said the issue could only come up when the airports reopened.
Onyeama said that during discussions, the Russian envoy stated that they would possibly also see some airports as military targets.
The minister said that they also discussed road travel to facilitate the evacuation, even though some Nigerians were able to get into neighbouring countries such as Holland.
The Russian envoy however told Onyeama that there might be risk involved, while also saying that Russia was mindful of the civilians from foreign countries and that they would take all the necessary measures to ensure their security.
The Ukrainian envoy expressed gratitude to the Government and people of Nigeria for their support.
“Right now, we are in a very difficult situation, but we are fighting against the aggression, and we believe that we will all win,” the Ukrainian envoy said.
Valeri also said Nigerian students in Ukraine were in the same situation as everybody else on the territory of Ukraine.
“Ukrainian Government does not differentiate between people on the basis of their nationality and that is the best effort to protect everybody.
“Currently, the evacuation of Nigerian students is not possible because it is not safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine.
“As soon as it is safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine, we will join the Embassy of Nigeria in Ukraine and jointly with the Nigerian Government, we will arrange for the evacuation of Nigerian Students,” Valeri said.
Meanwhile, speaking to journalists after the closed-door meeting between the G7 Envoys in Nigeria and Mr.
Onyeama, the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Birgitt Ory, who is also Chair of the G7 Group, appreciated the African Union on its statement on the situation.
Ory who also commended Nigeria for putting in its weight, said Nigeria is a very important voice that the world needed to hear.
He said that what is also clear is the unanimous condemnation of the attacks by all United Nations member states in the light of Russia’s military action.
Resolutions in UN Security Council
Ory said there will be resolutions in the United Nations Security Council, as well as the General Assembly and other United Nations fora such as the Human Rights Council where Nigeria is a very important voice and member.
Also in attendance were United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard; British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing; Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi.
Others were the representatives of the Embassies of Japan and Canada.
Minister meets Envoys of G7 Countries in Nigeria