Russia has been shunned by the rest of the world since it invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, but President William Ruto is open to the idea of doing business with Russia.
In the course of an interview with the BBC, Ruto expressed his willingness to purchase petroleum from Russia, provided that this course of action is available to Kenya. After getting rid of the fuel subsidy, which caused pump prices to go up by a lot, the President of Kenya said that he was looking at all of his options to lower fuel prices in the country.
President Ruto said, “I will now move on to the next item on the agenda, which is to make sure that we have government-to-government relationships that will help bring down the price of fuel step by step.”
When asked if he planned to purchase petroleum from Russia, President William Ruto responded, “All options are available to us as a country.” “Kenya is the country in Africa that we will be concentrating on; nevertheless, East Africa is also a possibility.“ “Our plan is to ensure that we work with the market forces to figure out how we can establish a government-to-government relationship that will allow us to purchase fuel at a price that is probably 20 to 25 percent less expensive than what is now available on the market,” he added.
Ruto continued to defend his decision to discontinue fuel subsidies, claiming that doing so would prevent the government’s coffers from being depleted. “Those are the interventions I am looking at, but I had to remove the subsidies because they were a huge drain on resources that would be used for the development of the country and yet the prices were not coming down, and it was generally distorting the price of fuel in the country and creating unnecessary shortages,” he said.
It is almost probable that the revelation made by Ruto that his government is eager to do business with Russia will put him at odds with the Western nations, which have slapped severe sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s administration.
As recently as the beginning of this month, the United States threatened to slap sanctions on consumers of oil from Russia. On September 9, 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement that people who “make large purchases of oil above the price cap” or who give false information about these kinds of transactions may be subject to sanctions.
The warning that was sent by the administration of Joe Biden applies to buyers of Russian oil located anywhere in the world who are contemplating whether or not to adhere to the price ceiling that was established by the G7 nations. After months of deliberation, the G7 finance ministers finally came to an understanding on how to set the price cap, which prompted the United States Treasury to issue its guidelines. The goal is to limit Russia’s income from exporting crude oil and products made from it without making the price of oil go up all over the world.
Even if Kenya is successful in evading US sanctions, conducting trade with Russia will still be extremely challenging because of the US and other governments’ decision to cut Russia off from the SWIFT system. SWIFT, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is the worldwide financial artery that makes it easy and quick to send money from one country to another.
Russia was kicked out of the Swift system by the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and a few other countries. This was done to cut Putin off from the global financial system and make it harder for the Russian government to work abroad.