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The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the twenty first edition of the quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. By the way, FIFA is an abbreviation for the Federation of International Football Association, which serves as the world governing body of the sport.

On 2nd December 2010, the then FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, announced the winning bids at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup competitions. Russia was chosen to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar was selected to host the 2022 World Cup.

From the June 14th to July 15th 2018, Russia will be hosting the world at football’s biggest stage, the much anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup which will see thirty-two national teams competing for the ultimate. Twelve venues in eleven cities have been selected for the four week football extravaganza.

After participating in the last three World Cups and making a great showing, Ghana’s senior national football team, the Black Stars, will not be making an appearance at Russia which has been described by followers and several connoisseurs of the game as rather unfortunate and unacceptable.

The Russian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Ghana expressed similar sentiments when I met up with him at the Russian Embassy in Ghana during the week to discuss the bilateral relations between Ghana and Russia. His Excellency Suslov Dmitry Yuryevich expressed his disappointment when the Black Stars failed to qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup knowing the quality the Ghanaian team is made up of.

Ambassador Yuryevich, a graduated of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations speaks English and Amharic in addition to his native Russian. He joined the diplomatic service in 1979 and has served in various capacities across the African continent – at the Embassies of the Soviet Union / Russian Federation in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

In Russia, Ambassador Yuryevich served as the Deputy Director of the Department of Africa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation before being appointed in May 2014 as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Ghana and Liberia.

Diplomatic relations between Ghana and the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) commenced in January 1958 which was followed by the establishment of the USSR Embassy in Accra in 1959. The Ghana Embassy in Moscow was opened in 1960, the year Ghana attained its republic status.

According to Ambassador Yuryevich, the relationship between the two countries has gone through various phases over the years with engagements at various levels and areas. “There has been a healthy relationship between Ghana and Russia from the very inception. It has been up and down but in all that, the friendship has survived the test of time. During this period, there has been the establishment of a Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC) as a platform for government, non – governmental organizations and stakeholders from both countries to chart a way forward. The next session of the JPCC is expected to take place this year in Moscow. The recent high level engagement occurred in October 2017 when an eleven member parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Prof. Michael Aaron Oquaye participated in the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in St. Petersburg”, he added.

As the two countries celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations in January 2018, there was an encouraging development in setting mutually beneficial cooperation on a new trajectory. As head of the Russian mission in Ghana, Ambassador Yuryevich outlined the priority areas and key partnerships in selected sectors under their cooperation with Ghana.

“Trade is very important to us and we are happy about the establishment of the Ghana Russia Business Development Council (GRBDC) which is working to create an environment where business can thrive between Ghanaian and Russian businesses and business owners. Dr. Lawrence Awuku-Boateng, the President of GRBDC and his team have been doing a tremendous work.  The total amount of trade between Ghana and Russia in 2016 was estimated at USD257 million and there is the potential for this to grow”, he said.


Though comparatively low, the trade volume recorded as at the end of 2016 could serve as a good base for enhancing cooperation in the area of trade according to the Russian Ambassador. The Russian export to Ghana consists of fuel, fertilizers, cardboard and paper whilst Russia imports cocoa beans and other agricultural products from Ghana.

Another area of importance is the energy sector. Negotiations are underway to develop cooperation in atomic energy that may well add significantly to the national mix of Ghana within the context of a would-be growing demand for this product. Other spheres of cooperation include liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) deliverables, transport and the agricultural sector”.

In the area of education and cultural exchanges, both countries are pursuing an aggressive agenda to empower the youth and women. As part of the bilateral relations and contribution to human capital development, Russia has recently increased the number of state sponsored scholarships from 50 to 67 for Ghanaian students at all levels who upon completing their studies can effectively contribute to the development of Ghana.

According to Ambassador Yuryevich “there are no words such as impossible and challenge amongst my vocabulary. I will urge all Ghanaian youth to rise above their personal situations to strive to achieve great things in their lives. Everything is possible in this life”.

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