August 10, 2022

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Why is Sergey Lavrov visiting Africa?

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, left Sunday on a diplomatic trip to Africa, where many countries are dealing with the food crisis caused by the food crisis. Ukrainian grain mass due to the Russian invasion. The goal of Lavrov’s trip is to convince the leaders of some African countries that the blockade is not the responsibility of Russia but the responsibility of Western countries, and thus strengthen relations with a part of the world that has so far remained neutral regarding the conflict, but that this could be very useful as an ally.

Lavrov was received by the Egyptian Foreign Minister on Sunday, and he plans in the coming days to meet the leaders of Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo. According to some commentators, given the interests and political inclinations of many African countries, it cannot be ruled out that Lavrov will succeed in finding new allies.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, and the suspension of exports due to the war has caused a food crisis especially in the Middle East and Africa. The blockade was partly due to the fact that the Ukrainian ports were mined to avoid Russian attacks, and partly to the system of seizure and resale of stocks that Russia created in the occupied territories. Friday signed Agreement between Ukraine and Russia The ban on exports of about 20 million tons of wheat has been lifted, but it is not yet clear whether it will have a tangible impact.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, many countries in Africa and the Middle East have maintained a neutral stance on the conflict, hoping not to compromise on good trade relations with Russia and the benefits of cooperation with Europe and the United States. No African country has joined the European and American sanctions to curb the Russian economy, but only a few have spoken out in favor of Russia.

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However, Russia fears that the food crisis in Africa will change this balance, leading to the severing of relations with some important African countries. The goal of Lavrov’s trip is to prevent this from happening and possibly to strengthen relations with this part of the world.

Before his trip, Lavrov published an article in the newspapers of the four countries that he was going to visit. Among what he wrote: “We know that fellow Africans do not approve of the blatant attempts by the United States and its satellites to take over and impose a unipolar world order on the international community.”

The thesis of Russian propaganda articulated in the article – that Russian President Vladimir Putin is at war against the Western hegemony of NATO countries in defense of the rest of the world – is very much in line with the anti-Western approach prevalent in the countries. Africa, which has long suffered from the political and economic colonization of the United States and Europe, and it cannot be excluded that it will dominate public opinion.

In June, during the meeting between African Union President Macky Sall and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former president demanded the lifting of the embargo on grain exports as well as the easing of sanctions against Russia, effectively supporting the Russian hypothesis that the food crisis would end. He blamed restrictions imposed by the United States and European countries.

In an effort to prevent the possible effects of Lavrov’s trip, Europe and the United States have massed some of their diplomats in Africa, but to little effect for the time being. In particular, US Special Envoy Mike Hammer announced that he plans to visit Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia. However, especially in the Middle East, where anti-American sentiment has been deeply entrenched since the US invasion of Iraq, Russian propaganda and Lavrov’s efforts are likely to be more successful than Western efforts.

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Murithi Mutiga, head of the African program for the independent organization International Crisis Group. He said Russia has many advantages in trying to “win hearts and minds on the African continent,” but “Moscow will be disappointed if it expects African governments to give it its full support. The prevailing instinct among the continent’s authorities is to remain impartial and to stay out of the clash between Russia and the West.” “.

The first meeting in Lavrov’s trip to Africa took place on Sunday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and was described as very cordial.

In recent months, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine by bowing to European and American pressure, but then reaffirmed his commitment to cooperating with Russia. There are strong economic reasons behind Egypt’s neutrality: about 80 percent of its grain supply came from Russia and Ukraine, and about 30 percent of tourists are Russians. Russia is also building a nuclear power plant in Egypt worth $26 billion. However, at the same time, Egypt is also a major recipient of US economic aid, which puts the government in a position where it is not able to get out of balance significantly.