Africa, like the whole world, woke up on February 24, 2022, to the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a clear violation of international law and the UN Charter. Faced with the same reality, the international community reacted in different ways. While the U.S. and its Western allies activated a series of economic and diplomatic measures against Russia and set up a support system for Ukraine, the Global South has shown rather diverse and more circumspect attitudes. Indeed, some countries – Belarus, Syria, Djibouti and others – have expressed their support for President Vladimir Putin in his struggle over what he has called “security issues.” Others, meanwhile, have sought to be neutral in their diplomatic discourse toward both Russia and Ukraine, refraining from supporting sanctions against Russia or breaking diplomatic ties with either country.
Africa was not an exception to this diversity of reactions, with its countries divided and none of them ready to cut trade and diplomatic ties with the Russian Federation. One of the easy explanations for this state of affairs was that the pro-democratic countries tended to support the Western position, while the more authoritarian countries tended to oppose it. In fact, this has not occurred, because even countries with strong democratic tendencies – Senegal, Ghana, Botswana and even South Africa – have avoided taking a position. We must therefore look elsewhere for an explanation and analyze the consequences of this neutrality resulting in damaged unity, which is one of the unfortunate consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Our intention is to examine the negative impact on Africa of the invasion of Ukraine. We will attempt to do so by articulating three points. First, we will provide an interpretive context by briefly outlining the framework of Russia’s return to Africa. Second, we will focus on the first consequence of the invasion, namely, the questionable neutrality adopted by the African Union. Third, we will present other areas negatively affected by the war in Ukraine.