Ukraine has disclosed it plans to more embassies in Africa and stage a summit with leaders from the continent, where Russia is also carrying out a diplomatic offensive.
“We have recently adopted our first African strategy and intensified our political dialogue with many countries on the continent,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the African Union’s forerunner.
“This year, we are going to establish new embassies in different parts of the continent and plan to hold the first Ukraine-Africa Summit. I invite the leaders of your countries to take part in this important event.”
He added: “We want to develop a new quality of partnership based on three mutual principles: mutual respect, mutual interests, and mutual benefits.”
Kuleba is currently on a tour of Africa, where he made an appeal from Addis Ababa on Wednesday to Ukraine’s “African friends” to end their declared neutrality in the war.
He was scheduled to visit Rwanda on Thursday. Other details about the tour have not been revealed.
Russia has ties with African countries, including their present-day leaders, that can be traced to the Cold War, when the Soviet Union cast itself as an anti-colonialist defender.
A Russia-Africa summit, the second in the series, is to be held in Saint Petersburg from July 26-29.
In February, 22 of the African Union’s 54 member states abstained or did not vote on a UN General Assembly resolution marking the one-year anniversary of the war that called for Russia withdraw from Ukraine.
Two of them — Eritrea and Mali — voted against the resolution.
Kuleba in his statement stressed the efforts to unblock Ukraine grain exports, which have been hamstrung by Russia’s naval blockade of its ports.
African countries have been badly hit by the inflationary surge triggered by the war, especially in cereals, of which they are major importers.
“An overall of 123 ships with more than three million tonnes of agricultural products have already been sent to the countries in Africa: Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Tunisia, Somalia, and Algeria,” he said.
“We have already sent six ships with a cargo of 170,000 tonnes of wheat to Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen,” he said.
“More ships are being prepared. No family in Africa should suffer because of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”