The head of Ukrainian diplomacy Dmytro Kouleba announced to AFP a fight “long-term” For “to bring back to life” kyiv’s relations with Africa and reduce the“control” of Moscow on this continent based, according to him, on “coercion, corruption and fear”.
After decades of oblivion, kyiv launched a seduction operation in Africa in the hope of obtaining its support in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine which began in February 2022.
“Many years have been lost, but we will advance a Ukrainian-African renaissance, revive these relations,” declared Mr. Kouleba in an interview with AFP on Wednesday.
“This continent needs systematic and long-term work,” added the minister, who has already made three tours to Africa since last fall.
In June, a delegation of African heads of state led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also visited Ukraine.
If “most African countries” always display their “neutrality” in the face of conflict, “a slow erosion of Russian positions in Africa is underway”assured the minister, citing Liberia, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea among kyiv’s new partners on the continent.
“Propaganda and Wagner”
“We don’t want to be another Russia. Our strategy is not to replace Russia, but to free Africa from Russian influence. he pointed out.
Mr. Kouleba accuses the Kremlin of using “coercion, corruption and fear” to keep African countries in its fold, while ensuring that Moscow only had “two powerful working tools in Africa: propaganda and (the paramilitary group) Wagner”.
For several years, Russia has begun an intense rapprochement with Africa, including through the security services provided by Wagner, notably in Mali and the Central African Republic, by presenting itself as a bulwark against“imperialism” and the “neocolonialism” Western.
Mr. Kouleba also described ” lies ” the concerns expressed by Moscow about Africa’s food security, after withdrawing from a crucial agreement which allowed the export of 33 million tonnes of Ukrainian grains through the Black Sea in one year, despite the Russian invasion.
“Africans have seen that all these stories from (Vladimir) Putin about how he cares about African countries are lies,” launched Mr. Kouleba.
Moscow’s abandonment of this agreement in July raised fears of a rise in grain prices which particularly affected the poorest countries. The Russian president then promised to deliver free grain to six African countries.
“It is the Ukrainian farmer and the African bread consumer who pay the most (for leaving Moscow).” estimated Mr. Kouleba.
Stakes “too high”
Speaking about the grueling counter-offensive launched against the Russian army since June, the minister said that the Ukrainian troops had for ” objective “ to liberate all of Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014, “no matter how long it takes.”
According to the leaders in kyiv, this military operation is progressing at a slower pace than expected.
It made it possible to recapture a handful of small towns but came up against solid Russian defensive lines, notably made up of trenches and minefields.
Ukraine, whose military and civilian losses are estimated by the West at more than 100,000 killed or injured, “pays the highest price” of this conflict, admitted the minister.
“But as long as the people of Ukraine believe that Ukraine is capable of winning and achieving its goals militarily, the struggle will continue,” he assured.
“We are all tired. I’m tired and you’re tired”, but “the stakes are too high to allow fatigue to determine the nature of our decisions”, added Mr. Kouleba.
Although he assured that he did not feel pressure from Ukraine’s Western allies to accelerate its counter-offensive, the minister nevertheless said that “a little irritated” by certain comments on the slowness of this operation.
“The right approach for those who want it to be quick and brilliant is to join the (Ukrainian) foreign legion and do it quickly and brilliantly,” he blurted.
While the West has already sent weapons worth tens of billions of euros to kyiv, Kouleba stressed the need for even more weapons “until we win.”
Ukraine has also given “guarantees” that it would not use weapons supplied by the West on Russian territory, said Mr. Kouleba. “There have been a few occasions when we have made such promises and we keep them”he added.