Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has appealed to African countries, urging them to reconsider their neutral stance regarding the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Speaking in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on Wednesday, Kuleba expressed disappointment over the decision of some African nations to abstain and called for their diplomatic support in the face of Russian aggression.
Several African countries have chosen not to take sides in the European conflict, with a number of them abstaining from votes at the United Nations General Assembly that condemned Russia’s invasion. Ethiopia is among these countries.
Russia has established a significant presence in various parts of Africa, where the Russian private military contractor Wagner is active. Moreover, Russia recently conducted joint military exercises with South Africa and has plans to hold an Africa-Russia summit in July.
Kuleba also urged African countries to endorse the “ten-point peace formula” proposed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in December. He emphasized Ukraine’s desire to strengthen relationships with Africa, focusing on trade in energy, technology, and pharmaceuticals.
Acknowledging that Ukraine-Africa ties have been neglected in the past, Kuleba stated that he was in Africa to convey the message that Ukraine aims to establish direct relations with African nations based on three principles: mutual respect, mutual interest, and mutual benefit.
Both Ukraine and Russia are significant grain suppliers to Africa.
Currently, Kuleba is on an African tour that includes visits to Morocco and Rwanda. During his time 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 the current chair of the continent-wide body.
Kuleba previously visited Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Kenya in October, but the trip was cut short due to Russia launching strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has also been actively strengthening ties with African countries since the start of the Ukraine war. He visited the continent once in 2021 and has made at least two visits so far this year.
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