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Ruto: Kenya will buy oil from willing countries, even Russia

President William Ruto addresses the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, United States. [File, Standard]

Kenya has expressed its intention to enter negotiations with oil-producing countries across the board in a move that might complicate the country’s foreign policy with its Western donors.

When asked if Russia was also an option for supplying fuel in a BBC radio interview Monday morning Ruto said: “All options are available to us as a country.”

President William Ruto said the government was seeking direct partnerships with oil-producing countries that will allow the country to bring down the cost of fuel domestically.

“The strategy we have is to ensure that we work with the market forces on how we can have a government-to-government relationship that can get us fuel at probably 20 to 25 per cent cheaper than what we have in the market,” he said.

Ruto said the government was keen on pushing this intervention after scrapping the fuel subsidy programme earlier this month.

“I had to remove the subsidies because they were a huge drain on resources that would be used for the development of the country,” he said.

 “We have saved money that was going down the drain with cartels in the subsidy system.”

“I am now going to move onto the agenda of making sure that we have government-to-government relationships that will progressively bring the prices of fuel down,” said President Ruto.

Trading with Russia could cause unease among Kenya’s western allies that have pushed for Russia’s isolation from the global economy as a response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February this year.

In April this year, Kenya alongside 58 other countries abstained from voting on a resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, KNBS, Kenya imported Sh37.6 billion worth of goods from Russia in 2021, a marginal drop from Sh37.9 billion recorded in 2020. Kenyan exports to the Russian Federation on the other hand rose from Sh8 billion in 2020 to Sh10.5 billion last year on account of an increase in domestic exports of cut flowers.

Ukraine is also a leading source of wheat and fertiliser to Kenya and last year the country exported Sh19.2 billion worth of goods, up from Sh7.4 billion in 2020.