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Despite widespread condemnation for Russia, Africa remains quiet

Recently, Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan President, said that Russia's war against Ukraine must be viewed in context of Moscow being the "center gravity" of Eastern Europe.

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Despite widespread condemnation for Russia, Africa remains quiet

His son, Lt. General Muhoozi Kairugaba, was even more insistent, declaring that most Africans support Russia's stand on Ukraine and that "Putin has absolutely right!"

Many African nations have either refused to condemn the actions or remain silent amid a global chorus of condemnation. Twenty-five out of 54 African nations didn't vote or abstained in the U.N. General Assembly resolution earlier in the month condemning Russia.

Why? The reason?

These relations have become more tense in recent years. As the U.S.' interest in Africa seemed to be waning under President Donald Trump, Russia and China expanded their influence. Russia has also increased its economic footprint to include everything, from energy plants to agricultural programs. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2019, 43 African dignitaries attended a summit with Russia. Russia has also become the largest exporter of weapons to sub-Saharan Africa.

These developments are not going unnoticed. The European Union leaders met in Brussels last month to discuss ways of counteracting Russia's and Chinas influence in Africa. While Western military and civilian leaders see Russia's increasing presence on the African continent as long-term threats to security in Europe, China is also one of the few countries that supports Moscow.

There have been some exceptions to this current of sympathy that runs through Africa. Kenya and Ghana were critical of Russia's actions.

However, other countries on the continent are not only abstaining form criticism but seem to be celebrating their alliances and friendship with Russia.

As tensions in Ukraine escalated further, South Africa's ruling African National Congress party attended a celebration at the Russian Embassy in Cape Town to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its diplomatic ties with Russia.

The ANC has ties with the Kremlin that go back to Soviet Union's military and diplomatic support for the struggle against apartheid. This was something the West did not offer. South Africans insist that Russia wasn't one of the colonizers.

South Africa's friendship to Russia is "rooted by bonds of brotherhood," Floyd Shivambu, a lawmaker from the Economic Freedom Fighters, stated. Shivambu stated that Russia's actions against Ukraine are necessary in order to stop NATO's expansion.

Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President, stated that his country did not participate in the U.N. censure resolution as it failed to demand "meaningful engagement" between Russia and South Africa.

Ramaphosa said Thursday that he had seen how countries have been invaded and wars have been fought over many years. This was in response to NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe. "And certain leaders of certain countries were killed. Muammar Gadhafi, a leader of Libya's own continent, was also killed."

He stated that he believes Russia is under "a national existential danger" from NATO.

Neighboring Zimbabwe also abstained from the U.N. election, as it had been previously exempted from sanctions at the U.N. for alleged human rights abuses in elections and corruption. This was thanks to the vetoes of Russia and China.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwean President, has praised Russia's and China as "dependable pilars", citing the guns and training they gave fighters during the 1970s war in Rhodesia against white minority rule.

Russia has made major investments in Zimbabwe. This includes a multibillion dollar joint mining venture in Great Dyke, which is home to one of the largest platinum deposits in the world. Russia is also involved in Zimbabwe's gold and diamond mining.

Russian officers are often involved in maintenance of military equipment in Uganda. Authorities recently announced that they had signed a contract to install tracking devices on vehicles in Uganda to combat violent crime.

Representative of East Africa's U.N. said Uganda abstained on the U.N. resolution regarding Russia in order to preserve its neutrality as the Non-Aligned Movement's next chair. This Cold War-era group, which includes 120 member states and almost all African nations, was created by the U.N.

However, President Museveni went even further and met with the Russian ambassador during the conflict in Ukraine. Since 1986, the leader of Uganda, Museveni, has been at the helm. He has criticised the West's "aggression towards Africa."

Museveni's government has been in conflict with the U.S., other countries and others who have expressed concern about last year's disputed elections and growing allegations regarding rights abuses. Museveni has also accused the West, through pressure to recognize LGBTQ rights, of interfering with domestic affairs.

Nicholas Sengoba is a columnist for Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper. He said that many African leaders, like Museveni, are happy to see Putin "stand up against the big boys of the West."

Museveni, following his meeting with the ambassador, urged Africans to use a tweet to call for a "center" of gravity. This is what Russia is for "the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe."

Although the post was deleted later, Kainerugaba's son, who commands Ugandan infantry forces, made clear his comments on social media.

He tweeted that "the majority of humanity (non-white) supports Russia's stand on Ukraine" on February 28. "Putin has it right!" In 1962, the West was ready for war when the USSR placed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba. They expect Russia to behave differently when NATO does the exact same thing.


 

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