For Putin, African leaders are the shadow of the Cold War

African leaders are the shadow of the Cold War
African leaders are the shadow of the Cold War

Towards the end of February. Just 12 hours after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a group of officials gathered at a residential building in the South African capital, Pretoria. Among them were Russian officials stationed in the country, as well as South African ministers and senior military officials. They joined in the celebration of a national day in Russia.

The event was hosted by Russia’s Ambassador to South Africa Ilya Rogachev. The guest list included all dignitaries, including the South African Minister of Defense and the Chief of the Armed Forces. Russia did not hesitate to attend the event, even after the invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow has received support from governments and leaders not only in South Africa but also in many other African countries. Many did not condemn the attack again. The position of African countries has disappointed the United States and its Western allies who have come to support Ukraine.

A resolution was raised in the UN General Assembly condemning the attack on Ukraine. The resolution was voted in favor by 141 member states of the General Assembly, with five countries voting against. Thirty-five countries abstained from voting on the UN resolution.

In addition to South Africa, 16 of these 35 countries are African, including Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal, Mozambique, Mali, Algeria, Angola, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Namibia, Congo. There are 54 countries in Africa.

Some international relations analysts have expressed new concerns over the position of African countries on the Russia-Ukraine issue. They think that just as the world was divided during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, so the African countries are likely to fall into a new polarization at this time.

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Priyal Singh, a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies, a Pretoria-based think tank, said the position of African countries was reminiscent of the divisions seen during the Cold War. Their position in the current international reality is so exceptional that their commitment to the post-war world system and values is being questioned.

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has refrained from criticizing Moscow in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The group also called for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine to resolve the crisis. A few more countries have followed the same path. They are blaming the Western military alliance, NATO, for the war in Ukraine. According to the countries, the westerners are behaving in a two-pronged manner around the crisis.

This support for Russia in many African countries is not a coincidence. Analysts say many countries on the continent have Moscow-backed governments. The then Soviet Union was on their side to become independent from the colonial rule.

The leaders of the ruling parties in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique remember how the Soviet Union helped them to get a taste of independence, starting with money and weapons.

Russia has been trying to take advantage of this historic relationship with African countries for the past few years. The issue of relations between the two sides has been raised in various statements in Moscow and at various international conferences. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has visited Africa several times in recent years.

Russia is focusing on the volatile regions of Africa to exert influence. Notable results have also come from several countries, such as the Central African Republic and Mali.

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Following the military coup in Mali, the country’s ruling party has renewed ties with Moscow. The Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization, is made up of retired members of the country’s armed forces. The head of the non-governmental organization is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Wagner’s fighters are thought to be fighting in six African countries, including the Central African Republic and Sudan. The United Kingdom imposed sanctions on the Wagner group last Thursday