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Ukraine Kuleba Holds Discussions with African Union leaders in Ethiopia



Despite experiencing the most critical and hectic times, Ukraine is making tremendous efforts to move its relations with Africa. With well-coordinated efforts with African partners, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, went on an official visit to Africa late May, 2023.
The significance of the second working visit was that Minister Dmytro Kuleba held useful talks with President of Comoros Islands and the current African Union Chairperson, Azali Assoumani and the Head of African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The parties have reportedly agreed to systematise contacts and consultations at all levels between the government of Ukraine and the African Union Commission. During the discussions, Dmytro Kuleba stressed that any peace initiatives must meet the logic of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula, which was reflected in the provisions of the relevant UN General Assembly resolution.
Fifteen months into the devastating war, he was in Ethiopia on a regional tour to drum up African support for Ukraine in the face of “military aggression” by Russia. He, unreservedly, called for certain African nations to end their “neutrality” over Russia’s invasion of his country.
“We speak with our African friends, trying to explain to them that neutrality is not the answer,” he said in English at a press conference in Addis Ababa, home of the African Union. “By being neutral towards the Russian aggression against Ukraine, you project your neutrality to the violation of borders and mass crimes that may occur very close to you, if not happen to you.”
In February, 22 of the African Union’s 54 member states abstained or did not vote on a UN General Assembly resolution marking the one-year anniversary of the war that called for Russia withdraw from Ukraine. The two African countries – Eritrea and Mali – voted against the resolution in New York.
“I know that there are countries and people in Africa who sympathise (with) Russia because they connect Russia with the support these countries were receiving during the Soviet Union times and the role of the Soviet Union in the decolonization of Africa,” Kuleba said.
“This Russia is very different. I think the biggest real investment of Russia in Africa today is the Wagner mercenaries,” he said, referring to the private military group fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.
Russia, he claimed, did not appear on the list of countries providing Africa with humanitarian aid or of major investors on the continent. “Russian propaganda is very good. And they work very actively in Africa,” he added. “Unfortunately our relations with African countries did not receive proper attention in our foreign policy for years and we lost a lot,” he added.
In fact, there are concrete indications that Ukraine is on Africa’s side when it came to food security, particularly this time, with the continent among those hard hit by rising prices and supply disruptions caused by the Russian invasion. The minister, therefore, called on the African Union to demand from Russia to stop the interference in the operation of the grain corridor in the Black Sea and eventually end the blockade of Ukrainian ports.
He said that “Russia should not use food as a weapon. Unhindered export of Ukrainian grains will help African countries to get the agricultural products they need. We call on the African Union to clearly declare to Russia the inadmissibility of its destructive policy.”
“Russia’s war against Ukraine is felt all over the world, in particular, on the African continent. It is critically important to join forces to put an end to Russian aggression based on the principles of the UN Charter and the Ukrainian Peace Formula,” Kuleba added.
According to the Ukraine Foreign Ministry, 123 ships with 3.3 million tons of agricultural products have been exported to African countries since the beginning of May, which is leading to the food situation in a number of African countries becoming more stabilized.
The UN and Turkey-brokered deal, first signed in July 2022, has been paramount in subduing soaring food prices worldwide. Russia’s all-out war prevented Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain suppliers, from exporting agricultural products from its Black Sea ports. The initiative, specifically, allows for significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, and this initiative is supported by the United Nations.
In March 2023, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stressed the importance of deepening areas of trade and working to achieve representation in 30 countries across the continent, with ten states already identified where new Ukrainian embassies will open as the former Soviet republic looks forward to strengthening its economic and diplomatic relations with Africa.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry sources say comprehensive partnership in the economic area, in particular, the establishment of the intergovernmental commission will help increase the trade and invigorate business contacts, enable the implementation of mutually beneficial projects in the areas of high technology, digitalization of public services and pharmaceutical industry in Africa.
According to our monitoring and research, in July 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also appointed Maksym Subkh as a Special Representative of Ukraine for the Middle East and Africa. Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba’s first tour last October took him to Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Kenya before it was cut short when Russia launched a campaign of missile and drone strikes targeting critical infrastructure in the run-up to winter.
Meanwhile, Africa is still divided over the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, with some tacitly supporting Russia. Russia trading anti-Western rhetoric across Africa. Perhaps, it will be underestimation to consider these as trivial matters. Just think of the continental unity, the pursuit of sustaining peace and stability – necessary for further economic development and be reminded of the primary goals of the African Union.
The most glaring undeniable fact is that the African Union (AU) and African leaders understand aspects of the geopolitical complexities and implications of the conflict  and uphill challenges in a broad geopolitical context. In dealing with external powers, African Union needs to align its foreign policy, first and foremost, with its development priorities across Africa. Since February 24, 2022, Russia has embarked on a ‘special military operation’ in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine.
Source:|Kestér Kenn Klomegâh


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