Senegalese President and African Union Chair, Macky Sall led an African delegation to Russia to hold talks with the Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine and its devastating effects on African nations. Surprisingly, the meeting of the African leader and Russian President took place in Sochi on the 100th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to reports, the African Chair informed Putin that although their countries are far from the war theatre, they are the acute victims of this crisis on an economic level. Macky was of the view that Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine and a barrage of international sanctions on Russia have disrupted supplies of fertilizer, wheat and other commodities from both countries to African nations which caused a grave issue for the whole continent.
Russia-Ukraine war has pushed the global community in an economic turmoil while several economies across the globe suffered dual impact of war, first due to a halt of food, oil and fertilizers supplies from the belligerent nations to rest of the world, secondly global sanctions against Russia upset other economies across the world including Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America as well as in Europe. Africa, a conflict and climate hit continent fulfills its 90% food requirements, fertilizers, and up to some extent oil through imports from Russia and Ukraine. The current global price hike and energy crisis is badly affecting African nations which are dependent on external resources for the satisfaction of their food, medicine, energy needs besides import of electronics, home appliances and other machinery. According to the reports, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed 50 million Africans to below poverty line while the ongoing economic crisis added another 30 million into this category. The outbreak of a political and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine has changed the priorities of donor nations which not only hindered the provision of financial and economic assistance to the poor continent of the world but also further delayed the global efforts for peace and stability in Africa’s hotspots including Sahel, Ethiopia, Central Africa, and South Sudan.
The incumbent AU Chair has an ambitious agenda to grab important slots for the African Union at all global forums including the United Nations, however his recent visit to Russia has brought him to the center stage of Global rivalry between Russia and the west. The time of the Sall’s visit to Russia, which coincided with 100th day of Russian aggression against Ukraine, may be unintentional but it had been noted in the western capitals with great concern. Some viewed it as AU’s solidarity with Moscow, others perceived it as African diplomacy to end war and many considered it Sall’s anxiety about worsening famine crisis in Africa. Although, western leaders have their own priorities regarding war in Ukraine and which might not coincide with others interests.
In fact, the African leader pleaded on behalf of his community and clearly told Putin that hungry Africans are victims of the conflict in Ukraine while essential commodities including infant cereal, wheat, oil, and fertilizers had vanished in their countries. Although Macky Sall had made significant efforts to mold Putin’s hostility toward Ukraine, how the words of a noble can influence an assailant to pause his viciousness against a weak neighbor.