Cowboy hat wearing Salva Kiir met his Russian counterpart at the Kremlin where they strengthened their relationship as Russia searches for new allies
Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the president of South Sudan appear to have strengthened their relationship following a meeting in Moscow.
President Salva Kiir met with the Russian leader on Thursday at the Kremlin.
The pair are said to have agreed to expand their relationship in the areas of energy, trade and - most notably - oil.
The two leaders also discussed political and security matters in South Sudan, which is preparing for its first-ever presidential election late next year.
The African nation won its independence from neighbouring Sudan in 2011 - and Kiir has led the country since then.
According to the Kremlin, Putin said the development of oil refineries in South Sudan with the participation of Russian companies would bolster ties.
“This is only the beginning. We have many good opportunities in a variety of fields, including energy,” Putin said.
Currently, Russia’s Safinat Group is working on an oil refinery in South Sudan.
Russia's invitation to Kiir to visit came as global powers continue to reach out to African nations for support regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
South Sudan is under pressure from the United States and other allies to speed up implementation of a peace deal signed back in 2018 which aims to end a five-year civil war and prepare for the election.
For its part, South Sudan wants arms embargoes removed. Russia, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, could - in theory - help out with that desire.
At the meeting, Kiir said: “The world dictates that no one can survive or succeed alone,” and told Putin that the young country needs “strong friends and you are one of them”.
Putin and Kiir are also said to have discussed peace and security in Africa and wider international affairs.
The conflict in neighbouring Sudan has sent thousands of people into South Sudan, whose humanitarian and other resources were already badly strained.
This is the second time the South Sudanese president has visited Russia.
Kiir attended the first Russia-Africa summit in 2019.
Putin said Russia would assist South Sudan in handling its domestic political situation and ensuring security.
“We will do our ultimate [sic] to support you in this domain,” Putin said, pledging the country’s support to their newest allies.