AFRICA: UKRAINIAN INTERESTS VS RUSSIAN INFLUENCE
The article examines the political trends in the African region in the context of Ukraine's national security, and provides recommendations to improve the situation. According to the latest version of Ukraine’s National Security Strategy, the priority in the African region has been placed on diversifying markets and strengthening Ukraine’s political support in the face of Russian aggression. A significant threat is the growing presence of the Russian Federation in the African region with its extensive usage of both force and soft power tools, which was particularly evident at the Russia-Africa summit in October 2019 and the rapid spread of demand for the Russian “Sputnik V” vaccine against COVID-19 in 2021. Another related issue is the low level of support for Ukraine’s declarations in the UN General Assembly condemning human rights violations in occupied Crimea. The UN vote on occupied Crimea is one of the main factors in assessing relations with African governments, which Russian experts clearly point out. This reality highlights the need to increase Ukraine’s diplomatic presence and political weight in the African region in order to better contain the influence of the Russian Federation. Another important task is to monitor the destructive activities of the Russian Federation often aimed at fueling chaos, which could encourage local governments to establish closer bilateral relations with Moscow. At times, Russian policy has gone as far as supporting military coups that help to increase the level of Russian military and political presence in some states (for example, the cases of Mali in May 2021 and Sudan in October 2021).Strengthening the diplomatic level of representation in the region is a priority of Ukrainian foreign policy. In addition, the separation of economic and military-political factors is a problem for Ukraine. Trade is developing mostly with the stable countries of the eastern and southern parts of Africa, while the turbulent landscape of the west and center (except Nigeria) is poorly covered by the activities of Ukrainian enterprises. However, Ukrainian peacekeeping contingents have been active in these countries for a long time (primarily in the DRC).
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