Long-term plans are behind this trip, which, in particular, can help our country resist russian aggression.
Ukraine ignored Africa for a long time
Dmytro Kuleba's tour of African countries took place as part of the implementation of the strategy of opening new horizons and opportunities for Ukraine in the world,
– emphasized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Ukraine's relations with the African continent have been on the back burner for a long time. After the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine concentrated its attention on the development of relations with the closest and more understandable and predictable partners – Europe and Russia. At the same time, russia, imitating the Soviet Union, built its influence in Africa on old connections and reputation.
Instead, Ukraine was not interested in the development of these relations and maintained them at a minimal level – selling agricultural products and participating in UN peacekeeping missions.
Ultimately, this resulted in the loss of a huge market. Africa is likely to become the world's most populated continent with very high potential for investment and cooperation at all levels. Now Ukraine needs to catch up with lost opportunities in a very short time, that is, literally have time to jump on the last train.
Reformatting relations with the region
The development of relations with African countries was laid down in the African strategy developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and approved by the president as one of the priority directions in Ukraine's foreign policy. To achieve the goals of this strategy, a special representative of Ukraine for the Middle East and Africa was appointed.
In this way, Ukraine is trying to get more support from the countries of the African continent. This is especially important against the background of a full-scale russian invasion.
Political support is important to us. Voices in international organizations are important to us. The public position of these states is important to us. For example, South Africa. This is a BRICS country. Its position in this regional association is important. The African Union operates in Africa, whose consolidated position is also of great importance to us,
– emphasizes the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleg Nikolenko in an exclusive comment on channel 24.
At the same time, the political goal of this tour is also to convince neutral countries of the importance of support to Ukraine. In the dialogue with the leaders of African countries, it is usually not only about the problem that Ukraine has faced, but in general about the observance of international principles and the UN charter, which russia is now violating violently.
What difficulties does Ukraine face in Africa?
The main obstacle on our way to cooperation with Africa is the very small presence of Ukraine. Today, the entire African continent has only 10 Ukrainian embassies.
This tour was a revelation for both Ukraine and Africa. When you are not in this region, you do not hear directly from the people what exactly they think about russia's war against Ukraine, how they see the ways to end it. You do not have a complete understanding of where exactly to direct your efforts in order to achieve the maximum result,
– says Oleg Nikolenko.
This led to several problems at once. The small physical presence had a strong impact on the mention of Ukraine in the information field of African countries. In this way, russia is able to actively spread disinformation about Ukraine, and we risk losing the support of many voices on various international platforms, as well as receiving significant reputational damage. And those states that today have a neutral attitude towards Ukraine can still side with Russia.
Russia works very well in Africa in terms of propaganda. This is just one of their tricks, where they invest greatly. In russia, the two main vectors of cooperation with Africa are propaganda and Wagner PMC groups,
– says Oleg Nikolenko.
At the same time, ignoring the entire continent also affects the economic interaction between Ukraine and Africa. Ukraine has been fighting for its place in European trade for a long time, although African markets are also attractive, and currently they are actively occupied by China, the USA and Europe itself.
Africa is unstable and risky for investment
Ukrainians have the same insignificant ideas about Africa as Africans have about Ukraine. In the Ukrainian media field, this continent has the reputation of a certain set of rather unstable countries, with a lot of problems and risks. Endless military coups, security problems and poverty are usually the first things that come to mind when Africa is mentioned.
In part, this is true, but Africa itself is very heterogeneous and the situation in many countries differs significantly from one another.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has eyes on the world and an understanding of the situation in each country. We also know what doors need to be opened in order for Ukrainian business to enter this or that country. If domestic exporters are interested in opening up new foreign markets, we can help with this and in fact we are already helping,
– noted the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleg Nikolenko.
For this, during Dmytro Kuleba's tour of Africa, business forums were organized in each of the countries visited, attended by representatives of Ukrainian and African businesses.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains that African countries have a very structured vertical of power, and such meetings involving the political leadership and business give a clear signal to economic interaction. At the same time, such business forums provide a better understanding of the needs of one or another state, which allows identifying the main directions of future cooperation.
For example, countries that have significant security problems will become a good market for the sale of Ukrainian weapons. Dmytro Kuleba stated that some African countries today admire the Ukrainian struggle against russia and the effectiveness of some samples of Ukrainian weapons.
Of course, while the war is going on, all Ukrainian weapons are used to meet the needs of the front, but later Ukraine will be able to significantly strengthen cooperation in this field with African states.
For Africa, Ukraine stands out positively among other countries
At the same time, Russia, promoting itself as an antipode to the West, plays on this historical memory of Africans, pretending to be a liberator and helper. However, russia only deploys its military groups there, such as Wagner mercenaries. And under the means of strengthening security, on the contrary, it destabilizes the situation and parasitizes these countries, draining resources from them in exchange for illusory security.
For many years, Putin's russia has been troubled by the role that the USSR had. That is, a kind of other pole of world politics, as they present it to Africans. This is such a global goal. On a local scale, this is political loyalty on international platforms, control over resources, control over the routes of illegal migration and drug trafficking,
– says Global Ukraine Foundation analyst Marta Oliynyk-Dyomochko.
China also acts according to the opposite scheme to the West and tries to abstract from political influence, instead developing purely economic ties. However, by offering Africans huge investments and undemanding loans, Beijing is luring these countries into economic traps. Many of these countries, unable to pay for this financial support, end up becoming dependent on China.
Why does Ukraine stand out so much against this backgroundIn the history of our state, there are no cases of enslaving other peoples or introducing discord into the internal political situation of other countries. At the same time, we build all economic relations according to the "win-win" scheme. And such equal and mutually beneficial cooperation, without unnecessary interference, can have a positive effect on the image of our state in Africa.
Ukraine must reduce Russia's influence in Africa
Strengthening our presence on the African continent is a pure strategic importance. Currently, many African countries are neutral about the war in Ukraine, but russia is constantly trying to turn Africa against us.
The Kremlin powerfully manipulates information and blames Ukraine for the food crisis. russian propaganda claims that despite the signing of the grain agreement, Ukraine sends its agricultural products to rich countries, effectively dooming Africans to starvation. Of course, at the same time, the Kremlin omits the fact that this particular food crisis arose because of the russian invasion of Ukraine.
At the same time, Moscow actively uses the situation on the African continent to put pressure on Europe, because the artificial famine provoked by russia will increase the flow of refugees from Africa to Europe, which is also a factor of pressure on the EU.
We can recall the words of the propagandist Margrarita Simonyan: "All our hope is in the famine. This is what it means. It means that now the famine will begin, and they will lift the sanctions and be friends with us, because they will understand that it is impossible not to be friends with us."
"That is, an attempt to create a threatening situation on the African continent in order to obtain concessions from the international community, which is a typical blackmailing behavior of russia," – says Global Ukraine Foundation analyst Marta Oliynyk-Dyomochko.
The goal of developing Ukraine's relations with Africa is also to convey to these countries the manipulative nature of the russian government, which uses the continent's problems for blackmail and achieving its own political goals.
"When you talk to people personally, explain the situation with examples, it really works and changes their opinion. For example, the Minister went to four countries: Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Kenya, where he had meetings with the highest leadership there. And immediately, a few days later, during the consideration of the resolution of the UN General Assembly in New York, Senegal voted for this document, although previously Dakar abstained on Ukrainian initiatives. That is, this is evidence that it is necessary to come, speak and spend time, for achieving the results we want",
– says the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleg Nikolenko.
Russian missile terror disrupted Dmytro Kuleba's trip
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba was forced to interrupt his tour due to the large-scale shelling of Ukrainian cities by russia and return to Kyiv. At the same time, he called on Africa to pay attention to russia's war crimes and join the opposition to the Kremlin.
I call on Africa to leave "neutrality". A neutral position will only encourage russia to continue its aggression and criminal activities throughout the world, particularly in Africa. Moscow needs to hear your position that this war is unacceptable and must stop,
– said Dmytro Kuleba.
African-Ukrainian relations have great potential for development. At the moment, it is difficult to see a significant result, because this process has just begun, and it continues right now.
Despite the fact that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, was forced to leave Africa, the special representative of Ukraine for Africa and the Middle East, Maksym Subh, continues this tour. Meetings with African leaders will continue until the middle of the week.
The fact that Ukraine discovers Africa for itself at the moment of war can also have a positive impact on the development of these relations, and Kuleba's visit can become historic for Ukraine. After all, this demonstrates that Ukraine is in solidarity with Africa and is interested in solving common problems, even in spite of the war and the difficulties we face inside our country.