African Union Urges Putin to End Conflict


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“Russia is a country that exports a lot of products, notably gas and raw materials like wheat,”

Senegalese President and chair of the African Union Macky Sall has asked
Russian President Vladimir Putin to seek a lasting cease-fire in Ukraine.
Sall’s talk with Putin comes just a week after Senegal abstained from a U.N.
vote to condemn the Russian invasion. African nations have interests in seeing
an end to the war but also in not upsetting Putin.

 

Sall’s request as chairman of the African Union Wednesday was a contrast
to his actions as Senegalese president a week prior, when Senegal joined 16
other African countries in abstaining from a U.N. vote to condemn the Russian
invasion.

 

Senegal is considered a beacon of democracy in West Africa, so the move
came as a surprise to many.

 

“[Non-alignment] has been the default posture for many African countries
over the years where they prefer not to get involved or not to get in between
great power rivalries,” said Joseph Siegle, the director of research for the
Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “And so, it isn’t a vote of support for
Russia, but a vote for trying to maintain neutrality.”

 

Russia has a plethora of business dealings throughout the African
continent. Senegal, for example, signed a $300 million deal with Russian oil
company Lukoil just last year. The company also has operations in Cameroon,
Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria. Russian mining companies are also active throughout
Africa, from extracting diamonds in Angola to aluminum in Guinea and uranium in
Namibia.

Most notably, Moscow
is Africa’s leading supplier of weapons. Since 2015, it’s signed military
agreements with more than 20 African countries.

 

Furthermore, private
Russia military companies with close ties to the Kremlin have gained an
increasingly strong foothold in African countries such as Mali and the Central
African Republic.

 

So, while it may be
in the best interest of many African countries to avoid tension with the
Kremlin, leaders are beginning to feel the ripple effects of the war.

 

“Russia is a country
that exports a lot of products, notably gas and raw materials like wheat,” said
Abdou Rahmane Thiam, head of the political science department at Dakar’s
University of Cheikh Anta Diop. “That can have an economic impact especially
with regards to trade.”

 

Luckily, the African
Union does have some sway, Thiam said.

 

“International
relations are not only decided by major world powers — the African Union is
still a regional institution. It can be considered an influential voice,” Thiam
said. “Russia also needs Africa. It’s in their best interest to listen to the
spokesperson of the African Union.”

 

In a statement about
the call, the Kremlin referred to the invasion as a “special military operation
to protect Donbass” and did not mention Sall’s request for a cease-fire.
Instead, it stated that Russia was asked to safely evacuate foreign citizens
and said both leaders had reaffirmed their commitment to further develop
Russian-African relations.

 

voa


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