Ukrainian diplomat calls on Africa to support Kyiv against Moscow

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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged African countries on Wednesday to abandon their stances of neutrality towards his country’s war with Russia.

Speaking in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on Wednesday, Kuleba said Ukraine was “very upset that some African countries chose to abstain” and called on them to lend Ukraine diplomatic support “in the face of Russian aggression.”

Many African countries have refused to take sides in the European conflict, with several abstaining from votes at the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russia’s invasion. Ethiopia is one of them.

Russia has built a substantial presence in several parts of Africa, where Russian private military contractor Wagner is active, and recently held joint military drills with South Africa. Russia plans to hold an Africa-Russia summit in July.

Kuleba also called on African countries to endorse the “ten-point peace formula” proposed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in December and emphasised Ukraine’s wish to build better relationships with Africa, based on trade in energy, technology and pharmaceuticals.

Admitting that Ukraine-Africa ties "did not receive proper attention" in the past, Kuleba said he was on the continent to "convey a message that Ukraine wants to build direct relations with African nations based on three principles: mutual respect, mutual interest and mutual benefit.”

Both Ukraine and Russia supply a significant amount of grain to Africa.

Kubela is currently on an African tour that also includes visits to Morocco and Rwanda. In Ethiopia, he held discussions with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat and Azali Assoumani, the president of the Comoros and current chair of the continent-wide body.

Kubela made his first trip to Africa in October when he visited Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Kenya. The trip was cut short after Russia launched strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure.

His Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, has also been active in shoring up ties with African countries since the Ukraine war broke out, touring the continent once in 2021 and making at least two visits so far this year.

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