The Global South media on the war in Ukraine
This issue is entirely devoted to the media reaction to the Second Summit Russia–Africa
- African media on the results of the summit
The Independent, a political magazine from Kampala, Uganda, published on July 31 on its website the article “Museveni, Muhoozi at Russia Africa summit”, describing participation of African state leaders in the summit in St. Petersburg.
“President Yoweri Museveni and son, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, were part of a handful of African leaders at the Russia Africa summit in St. Petersburg held July 27-28 which most African leaders skipped. Only 16 African leaders attended, less than half of the 43 who attended the first Russia Africa summit in 2019. Even from East Africa, Museveni’s leading counterparts stayed away–dealing a blow to Russia which sought to tout the summit as a symbol of its strong ties with African countries. Kenyan President William Ruto was in Tanzania for one day for a Human Capital summit while Rwandan President Paul Kagame stayed in Kigali where he received an official Chinese delegation. Burundi’s Evaristo Ndayishemye showed up in Petersburg but hardly registered a presence. Some of the prominent leaders who showed up were South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Zimbabwean leader Emmerson Mnangagwa and Egyptian President Fattah al Sisi.”
“For Gen. Muhoozi who accompanied his father, it was a play for power: an opportunity to meet one of his idols; Russian President Vladimir Putin whose admiration he has put on display since he sent tanks rolling into Ukraine early last year. President Museveni had a meeting with Putin on the first day of the summit where they discussed business. Museveni tweeted “In that regard, I have invited Russia to take interest in a number of business opportunities in fields of oil and gas, agriculture, production, the pathogenic economy, industry and space science.” But it was the latter part of Museveni’s statement where Muhoozi, a Special Presidential Advisor on Special Operations, was likely to come in handy. “On the military side, Uganda has managed to become an island of peace in our part of the world, due to our cooperation through procurement of equipment from Russia over the years.”
“From Russia, Uganda has acquired six SU-30MK fighter jets, T-90 tanks, Kornet anti-tank missiles, anti-ship missiles, Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), and other components of the SU-30 combat aircraft.”
“For most African leaders, a meeting with Putin usually underlines an arms deal. African delegates at the summit such as Uganda government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo excitedly posed for photos at the weapons exhibition. It was a repeat of what happened at the 2019 summit in Sochi. If anything, Russia has proved to be the largest supplier of weaponry to African countries.”
“While opening the second Russia Africa summit, Putin offered to send up to 50,000 tonnes of free grain supplies to six African countries as recompense for withdrawing from a UN-backed grain deal with Ukraine. The gesture appeared too little too late as many African countries have been dealing with a food crisis emanating directly from the Russian war on Ukraine. It is believed Russia’s decision infuriated African countries resulting in the snub. Experts already said the move does not bode well for poor African farmers. “We already know or can predict to a fair degree the impact the pausing of exports from that region to the rest of the world, especially East Africa and the Horn of Africa, will have on food prices,” Debisi Araba, a food policy strategist and former managing director at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) told Al Jazeera. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov said of the low attendance. “This is absolutely blatant, brazen interference by the United States, France and other states through their diplomatic missions in African countries and their attempts to put pressure on the leadership of these countries in order to prevent their active participation in the forum.”
“However Uganda and Russia maintain cordial ties. In July 2022, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Uganda and had a meeting with President Museveni at State House Entebbe. The two countries were marking sixty years of formal relations. A Joint Permanent Commission of Russia and Uganda was established to hash out cooperation in energy, ideological studies, hydrocarbon, cyber security, agriculture and use of nuclear technology. With Lavrov, Museveni underscored Uganda’s strong ties to Russia amid the escalating tension between the superpower and the West. “We want to trade with Russia. We want to trade with all countries of the world. We don’t believe in being enemies of somebody’s enemy, no. We want to make our own enemies not fight other people’s enemies,” Museveni said. “It is not my job to be pro-West or pro-East. I deal with people according to my interests,” he added. https://www.independent.co.ug/museveni-muhoozi-at-russia-africa-summit/
Ghanaian Times, a Ghanaian government-owned daily newspaper, published on July 28 the article “Russia pledges to deepen cooperation with Africa”, devoted to the prospects of strengthening economic partnership between Russia and African countries.
“The Second Russia–Africa Summit and Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum has commenced here yesterday with a pledge by the Russian government to deepen cooperation and bilateral relations with African countries.”
“Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a plenary to open the two-day event said he was very optimistic about the prospects of developing full range of ties between Russia and African nations in political, economic and humanitarian areas. He said Russia was ready to help strengthen African countries’ sovereignty and contribute to Africa becoming a key partner in the new system of the multipolar world order. Many large Russian companies are successfully working in Africa. The key spheres of our cooperation include energy, subsoil use, agriculture. There are good opportunities for cooperation in research and technology, education and culture,” he said.”
“The Chairperson of the African Union and the President of Comoros Gazali Othmani, said the goal of Africa was to build fair partnerships with all countries in the international system, especially in the economic field. The summit he said offered an opportunity for African countries and organizations to strengthen future cooperation with Russia. He recognized Russia’s strong presence in Africa through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and emphasized Africa’s aspiration to build equitable partnerships with all countries in the international system, especially in the economic field. Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairmanof the Board of Directors, African Export-Import Bank stressed the need the deepening of trade relations between Africa and Russia.” https://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/russia-pledges-to-deepen-cooperation-with-africa
New Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe’s leading online newspaper, published on July 28 the article “We are both victims of the US – says Mnangagwa”, reporting statements made by president Emmerson Mnangagwa in Saint Petersburg and analyzing Zimbabwean ties with Russia.
“President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been handed a multimillion US dollar helicopter by the Russian government at this year’s Russia-Africa Summit. Mnangagwa, who received the aircraft on the sidelines of the summit, said Zimbabwe and Russia were both victims of America’s foreign policy and hence work together. The aircraft, whose ownership is yet to be ascertained between Zimbabwe and Mnangagwa, comes barely three months after donation of a fleet that is meant to serve as ambulances. Zimbabwe has been under sanctions for the past 23 years by the West, we are the same as Russia which is under sanctions from them so logically victims of sanctions must cooperate,” said Mnangagwa after a brief tour of the helicopter.”
“Putin and Russia were slapped with sanctions for the country’s invasion of Ukraine, culminating in a war that has displaced millions with no end in sight. Zimbabwe and Russia have enjoyed cordial relations from the days of its struggle against colonialism. Russia trained both ZIPRA and ZANLE cadres from Zimbabwe’s two revolutionary parties, Zapu and Zanu PF. Its recent endearment to Zimbabwe has been interpreted as a first step in the global race for lithium which Zimbabwe is well endowed with. With his international re-engagement agenda failing to find takers, Mnangagwa has reverted to usual allies Russia, China, and the remainder of the Middle East alongside Dubai among other new global heavyweights.” https://www.newzimbabwe.com/we-are-both-victims-of-the-us-says-mnangagwa-zim-leader-gifted-multimillion-dollar-executive-helicopter-by-russias-putin
- Global South media on the relations between Russia and African countries
Inquirer.net, leading Philippine news and information website connected with a daily newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer, published on July 26, the article “Russia’s Lavrov courts Africa in quest for more non-West friend”, concerning the Russian geopolitical goals in Africa.
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Congo Republic on Monday, the second leg of an African tour aimed at strengthening Moscow’s ties with a continent that has refused to join Western condemnation and sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. African countries, which have a tangled legacy of relations with the West and the former Soviet Union, have largely avoided taking sides over the war in Ukraine. Many import Russian grain and increasingly energy too, but they also buy Ukrainian grain and benefit from Western aid flows and trade ties.”
“Lavrov has already visited Egypt and will head from Congo to Uganda, then Ethiopia, where African Union diplomats said he had invited ambassadors from several member states to a private meeting on Wednesday, dismaying Western donors. An invitationletter from the Russian ambassador to Ethiopia and the AU, sent to a number of African ambassadors and seen by Reuters, said the goal of the meeting was to deepen cooperation between Russia and African states. Two AU diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity said the planned meeting, which would coincide with Hammer’s visit, was causing friction among Western donors because it signaled a pivot towards Russia. In a column published in newspapers in the four countries included in his tour, Lavrov praised Africa for resisting what he called Western attempts to impose a unipolar world order.”
“In Congo Republic, a small oil-producing former French colony north of the much larger Democratic Republic of Congo, Lavrov visited President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has been in power since 1979, with a five-year gap from 1992 to 1997. In a statement, Lavrov’s spokeswoman said this was the first visit by a Russian or Soviet foreign affairs minister to the country. She said friendly ties dated back to the Soviet era and that 8,000 Congolese citizens had studied in Russia.”
“Lavrov was expected later in Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni has a long history of balancing strong relations with Western allies and goodties with Moscow. Sarah Bireete, head of Kampala-based campaign group the Center for Constitutional Governance, said Museveni, who has been in power for 36 years, was increasingly keen on Russia because it did not question his government’s record. “Uganda has strong alliances with the West but they are beginning to question his democratic credentials so Museveni is now running to Russia which doesn’t query his human rights or democracy record,” she said.”
“Museveni’s son Muhoozi Kainerugaba, an army general widely seen as being groomed to succeed his father, praised Russia on social media shortly after President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24. “The majority of mankind (that are non-white) support Russia’s stand in Ukraine. Putin is absolutely right!” he wrote. Uganda’s state broadcaster said it would carry news bulletins from Russian state-funded channel RT twice a day under a new memorandum of understanding signed with Moscow.”
“Uganda is among several nations in Eastern Africa suffering from food shortages due to the region’s worst drought in 40 years, plus soaring inflation fueled by the crisis in Ukraine. Western powers have blamed Russia for the crisis, and last week the United States announced a $1.3 billion package to help tackle hunger in the region. Russia blames Western sanctions for grain supply problems.” https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1634752/russias-lavrov-courts-africa-in-quest-for-more-non-west-friends#ixzz88N4WU1Du
The Asian age, one of the leading Bangladeshi English newspapers, published on July 29 the article “Russia and Africa to promote a ‘multipolar order’: Putin”, concerning Russian plans to increase cooperation with African countries.
“President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia and the African leaders attending a summit in Saint Petersburg had agreed to promote a multipolar world order and to fight neo-colonialism. Putin hailed the “commitment of all our states to the formation of a just and democratic multipolar world order” during a statement to the media following the summit. The Russian leader also mentioned the “joint determination to counter neo-colonialism, the practice of applying illegitimate sanctions, and attempts to undermine traditional moral values.”
The two-days summit was seen as a test of Russia’s support in Africa, where Russia retains backing despite international isolation sparked by the military intervention in Ukraine. Participants signed a joint declaration that called for “the establishment of a more just, balanced and stable multipolar world order, firmly opposing all types of international confrontation in the African continent.”
“The meeting took place around ten days after Russia withdrew from a deal that protected Ukrainian grain exports. The suspension of the deal — that helped to stabilise global food prices and avert shortages — increased fears of a global food crisis. The Russian leader said his country would “continue to supply African friends with grain crops both on a contractual basis and free of charge.” He said Ukraine would be discussed with some African countries at a dinner on Friday. Putin also said the leaders had agreed to improve cooperation on aid, energy and trade, including by “consistently switching to national currencies for commercial transactions.” https://dailyasianage.com/news/309891/russia-and-africa-to-promote-a-multipolar-order-putin
ABC Color, one of the most popular daily newspapers in Paraguay, published on July 28 the article “Russia and Africa reject unilateral western sanctions in joint statement” (“Rusia y Africa rechazan las sanciones unilaterales occidentales en declaracion conjunta”), in which it was suggested that Russia and African countries may find common geopolitical interests.
“In the final declaration of the Russia-Africa summit held in Saint Petersburg the unilateral sanctions were denounced and “the third countries” which apply them were accused in “blackmail”. According to the document, published by the Kremlin, the participants in the summit agreed to “oppose the use of illegitimate unilateral restrictive measures, including secondary sanctions, as well as the practice of freezing sovereign gold and foreign exchange reserves” of the affected countries”.
“The leaders Russia and the African countries present at the St. Petersburg summit also agreed to continue fighting against the “the practice of confrontation in international affairs”, and to oppose disparaging countries for political reasons and “imposing restrictive political or economic measures under pretexts of protection of human rights”.
“It was stated that no countries should be allowed to use “unfounded accusations of human rights violations as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs” of other sovereign states. At the same time the participants in the summit pledged to protect human rights, but to avoid their “politicization”. According to the final declaration of the summit the accession of the African Union to the Group of Twenty is necessary and the strengthening of African representation on the global level is required”.
“In addition, Russia and African countries are going to continue their contacts aimed at the resolution and prevention of conflicts on the African continent and adhere to the principle “an African solution to African problems.” The Russian president also announced that Russia and Africa will create a “new coordination mechanism for international stability issues”, which will ensure food security and help fighting against terrorism and extremism”. https://www.abc.com.py/internacionales/2023/07/28/rusia-y-africa-rechazan-las-sanciones-unilaterales-occidentales-en-declaracion-conjunta/
(Translated from Spanish by IISWU)
- Non-African media targeting African audiences on relations between Russia and African countries
Radio France Internationale (RFI) Afrique, a station of the French state-owned international radio news network, published on July 31 at its website the article “’Outside interests’ driving anti-France protests in Niger, says deposed PM”, based on the interviews of Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou with RFI and TV-network France24. Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou served as Prime Minister of Niger between 3 April 2021 and 26 July 2023, until he was deposed by a military coup.
”Thousands of people took to the streets in support of the coup leaders, many also denouncing France – Niger’s former coloniser – and some hailing Russia instead. Mahamadou, who along with President Mohamed Bazoum has been replaced by a military council, said he was sorry to see protesters carrying foreign flags, without naming Russia.”
“If their aim is to get other foreign countries to come [to Niger], they may attack France’s interests based on their own agenda, not based on the agenda of the Nigerien people,” he said. “On France and every other country that intervenes on security matters in Niger, the public has spoken through their parliament.”.
“Niger agreed to host some 1,500 French troops to continue fighting jihadists in the Sahel after other countries in the region ended their cooperation with France. In both Mali and Burkina Faso, military takeovers in 2021 and 2022 respectively were followed by a rejection of the West in general, and former colonial power France in particular”.
“Since then, Mali’s military government has hired Wagner mercenaries to back up its forces, making it one of several African countries to turn to the Russian paramilitary group. Wagner, which has close ties to the Russian government, has been accused of running a propaganda campaign in Africa aimed at stoking opposition to France. Following the coup in Niger, the head of Wagner reportedly welcomed the overthrow as a blow against the country’s “colonizers”. “What happened in Niger is nothing other than the struggle of the people of Niger with their colonizers. With colonizers who are trying to foist their rules of life on them and their conditions and keep them in the state that Africa was in hundreds of years ago,” Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin purportedly said in a voice message released last week on social media channels associated with the group. “Today this is effectively gaining their independence. The rest will without doubt depend on the citizens of Niger and how effective governance will be, but the main thing is this: they have got rid of the colonizers.” https://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20230731-outside-interests-anti-france-protests-niger-coup-ouhoumoudou-mahamadou-interview
The Conversation Africa, an online-magazine belonging to a global network of political sites founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2011, published on July 29 the article “West Africa: Military Takeover Is a Setback for Democracy and U.S. Interests in West Africa”, mentioning the possibility of Russian influence on the coup in Niger.
“The coup also has major consequences for the region. Neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso have broken away from former colonial power France, and the West in general, and moved toward Russia. Meanwhile Chad, another neighbor, is engaged in a problematic effort at a transition to an elected government”.
“In Mali and Bukina Faso, the ills of those countries were blamed on France, with coup leaders looking to Russia for support and accepting support from the Moscow-backed mercenary Wagner Group.”
“The fear among those in the West – and many inside Niger – is that in the need to articulate a rationale, the new military leaders now will present the Nigerien experiment with democracy itself as a failure and similarly seek support from Russia and the Wagner Group. Wagner’s mercenary boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has already offered Niger’s new leaders the support of his men, praising the coup as an anti-colonial struggle.”
“In recent years, Niger has been the partner of choice for Washington in regards to the Sahel. It is seen as a linchpin in the fight against terrorism in the region, and its importance has escalated significantly as Mali and Burkina Faso turned to Russia.”
“We will have to see how things unfold, but it is clear that this coup could deal a serious setback to U.S. interests in the region. But above all, it is a terrible blow to Niger’s efforts at building stable democratic institutions and to fostering the peace and stability that could better the lives of people living in one of the world’s poorest countries.” https://theconversation.com/niger-coup-military-takeover-is-a-setback-for-democracy-and-us-interests-in-west-africa-210672
Deutsche Welle, a German state-owned international broadcaster, published on its website the article “Where do Russia’s ties with Africa stand?”, in which it is suggested that Russia wants to use African countries to reach its geopolitical goals in the confrontation with the West.
“Russia’s most recent attempts to strengthen ties with countries in Africa are purely political, some African analysts say. In the past, Moscow’s ties with the continent was largely based on ideology tied to Western colonization and imperialism. In post-colonial Africa, Russia has pursued some economic partnerships but made little progress. Abuja-based international relations expert Ovigwe Eguegu says Russia is no match for China when it comes to trade with Africa. ”
“Accra-based Africa expert Emmanuel Bensah says African countries must be strategic. “The continent needs to be a bit smarter about how it engages Russia,” Bensah told DW. Most African countries have not openly condemed Russia for its war in Ukraine. Loyalty to Russia for its support during independence struggles in Africa is a major factor, says Luanda-based political analyst Olivio N’kilumbu “Some are of the opinion that the former liberation movement still owes the Russians a lot since the days of the Cold War,” N’kilumbu told DW. “And now we Africans have to shut up about the Russian invasion.”
“In the decades since countries around Africa won independence, Russian economic support has been minimal, Eguegu told DW. “Russia is playing to its strengths on the continent because it doesn’t have the economic dynamics with African countries. Primarily the tools Russia is relying mostly on is diplomatic rhetoric. It speaks to Africa’s opponent, the West,” he said.”
“The “full strategic partnership” Putin talked about was meant to kick in after the first Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019. It has largely involved arms deals and military support. Russia was ranked Africa’s biggest arms supplier in 2020 . An analysis by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) showed that around 30% of all arms exported to sub-Saharan Africa came from Russia between 2016 and 2020. It marked a 23% increase in the volume of Russian arms shipments over the previous five-year period, with China (20%), France (9.5%) and the US (5.4%) lagging behind.”.
“Russian military support is deepening in Africa. Its Wagner Group operates in Central African Republic (CAR), Mozambique, Mali, Libya, Sudan and Burkina Faso. Abuja-based political analyst Samson Itodo says that’s a cause for concern. “I think we should be worried, as a continent about Russia’s increasing influence in shaping domestic politics within the Africa region. And this interference needs to be resisted,” Itodo told DW. Sylvie Baïpo-Temon, the CAR foreign minister, dismisses criticism of Russian mercenaries in Africa. “We [can] talk about Wagner in as many ways as you want, but it exists everywhere. The United States has their private military company, France has a private military company, the United Kingdom also has it,” Baipo-Temon told DW. Some African leaders have gone even further to defend the Russia’s presence. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has said that “Russia or any other big power should not be our problem. The issue is these big powers have their own issues to sort out and then they keep sucking in these small countries of ours.” Speaking in Benin in April, Kagame added: “So Russia has the right to be anywhere they need to be legally, as any other country has the right to be anywhere.”
“African experts agree that Africa is becoming attractive to Russia and other global powers. President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana last year expressed concern over neighboring Burkina Faso’s reported deal to let in the Wagner Group. “Privately, a lot of African countries have a problem with the fact that Russia has not really supported them since the Cold War,” Bensah told DW. He believes that Africa-Russia ties will continue to strengthen as anti-West sentiment rises, but he hopes that countries in Africa will seize the opportunity to take charge and control the relationship.”
Al Jazeera, a Qatari state-owned international news television network, published on its website the article “Putin promises grains, debt write-off as Russia seeks Africa allies”, in which Russia-Africa summit describes as an attempt of the Kremlin to promote the idea of joint fight against ‘neocolonialism’ among African nations.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country and the African leaders attending a summit in St Petersburg have agreed to promote a multipolar world order and fight “neocolonialism” as he offered debt write-offs and grain to woo allies. “Russia’s attention to Africa is steadily growing,” Putin said on Friday at the end of the two-day summit. The meeting was seen as a test of Moscow’s support in Africa, where Russia retains backing despite international isolation sparked by its war in Ukraine. The Russian leader also mentioned the “joint determination to counter neocolonialism, the practice of applying illegitimate sanctions and attempts to undermine traditional moral values”. Representatives of 49 countries, including 17 heads of state, attended the summit in the Russian city. Participants signed a joint declaration that called for “the establishment of a more just, balanced and stable multipolar world order, firmly opposing all types of international confrontation in the African continent”.”
“Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem, reporting from St Petersburg, said the declaration is Russia’s “new initiative towards Africa”. “There is a Russian plan for Africa,” he said, adding that there are “very ambitious initiatives” from Putin. “Russia wants to gain Africa allies. This is why it’s initiating more and more towards Africa – to the extent that President Putin wants to … revive the Soviet era investments in Africa,” he said. According to Hashem, Russia plans on building plants and factories and increasing diplomatic missions on the continent. “Putin is also promising to maintain grain supplies to Africa after he withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal. He is blaming the West for higher food prices and inflation and said the global economic system is going through significant change. Africa is the “new centre of power. Its political and economic role is growing exponentially. … Everyone will have to take this reality into account,” he said.”
For several years, the Kremlin has openly engaged in diplomatic and economic offensives on the continent and offered security services in the form of the Wagner mercenary army to African governments fending off armed group. But in recent months, Russia has had to speed up its quest for alternatives to European partners. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has toured Africa twice since January, seeking to draw it into Moscow’s camp and presenting Russia as a bulwark against Western “imperialism” and “neocolonialism”.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/7/28/putin-promises-grains-debt-write-off-as-russia-seeks-africa-allies