Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba demands the continent’s leaders ditch their neutrality over the conflict in his country
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has called on Africa to back Kiev in an upcoming UN General Assembly vote to condemn last month’s referendums that resulted in four new regions joining Russia. The diplomat published his ‘Message to African Nations’ on the ministry’s website on Monday.
“Africa’s support is needed now more than ever,” Kuleba wrote, revealing he was cutting short a lobbying tour of African capitals to return home following Russian missile strikes on Kiev and other cities. “African nations [must] stand by international law, territorial integrity, and peace,” not only by condemning the strikes on Kiev, Odessa, Dnepr, Kharkov, Rovno, Lviv, and Ivano-Frankovsk, but also by opposing with a UN vote Moscow’s “annexation” of the formerly Ukrainian territories, his message demanded.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described Monday’s strikes as a response to Ukrainian “terrorism” against Russian energy infrastructure and the Crimean Bridge, among other sites. The missiles targeted “Ukrainian objects of energy and military control and communications,” damaging key infrastructure facilities.
Kiev has thus far had a difficult time convincing African leaders of their shared struggle. Its declarations that Russia was holding the continent “hostage” and was somehow responsible for the sanctions placed on it by NATO nations, thus imperiling the global food supply, have largely fallen on deaf ears. Only half of African nations backed a June UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and none have joined in the sanctions pile-on led by the US and Europe.
Instead, African Union chair Macky Sall has complained that anti-Russian sanctions have made it more difficult for the continent to pay for the fertilizer and grain it desperately needs, while Europe was able to carve out loopholes for itself.
The UN plans to vote this week on a resolution declaring the referendums and subsequent “annexation” of the four regions by Russia illegitimate. Russia has already asked for a secret ballot for the vote, citing heavy pressure from the West and Ukraine as factors that will likely affect the outcome. “It may be very difficult [for dissenters] if positions are expressed publicly,” UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia wrote in a letter to the global body.