The crisis between Russia and Ukraine escalated rapidly to the stage of military confrontation, and the world moved in its various directions and was pushed into a state of alignments and counter-alignments as if history was repeating itself when the First and Second World Wars erupted.

Competing strategies are jostling in the world stage between Russia and its ally China, which seeks to create a multipolar and centered world, and between the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), who believed that by the end of the Cold War they would write the end of history with the dominance of the capitalist world.

There is no doubt that these conflicts and developments cast a negative and positive shadow on Africa, so how does the current crisis affect the brown continent?

Does Africa play a role in creating new global balances?


What is the size of the Russian and Ukrainian presence in Africa?

Researchers in the Russian affairs believe that Russia has withdrawn from itself since the early nineties of the last century, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is no longer the force that struggles with the greats.

Its new appearance on the world stage - and in Africa in particular - coincided with the Western sanctions in 2014 that followed its occupation of Crimea, and this appearance reinforced its intervention in Syria and imposed its strategy and desire to become a competing power.

Since 2014, Moscow has begun to penetrate into Africa, and in less than 16 years it has signed agreements with more than 25 countries in it, culminating in the Sochi Summit in 2019, which was attended by almost all African countries, as 35 events were organized within the framework of the summit and 1,500 meetings, and the signing of A number of agreements between Russia and African countries worth $12.5 billion, making Russia the largest arms exporter to this continent.

Russia sends "Wagner" mercenary soldiers working in about 7 African countries, and on the other hand, the positions of African countries in international forums since 2014 have become between supportive of the Russian position or not supportive of its opponents.

As for African-Ukrainian relations, they are historically linked to the Soviet Union, so Ukraine did not have relations with Africa after the fall of the Soviet Union.

History mentions that Ukraine provided generous support to Africa in a number of fields and trained thousands of young Africans. Recently, Ukraine recorded a presence in this continent by exporting wheat and some agricultural-related products, in addition to hosting tens of thousands of students in higher education.

One of the fighters of the Russian Wagner Company, of which there are many divisions in the countries of Africa (Anatolia)

What are the areas affected by the crisis?

There is no doubt that the crisis will affect all political, economic, military and security fields, and despite the novelty of the Russian-African partnership, it will play a role in determining diplomatic weights. This was evident in the discussion of the crisis at the United Nations General Assembly the day after the second of March.

The trade exchange between Russia and Africa does not exceed the ceiling of 20 billion dollars, which is a modest level compared to its trade relationship with China, which has a trade exchange with Africa of 204 billion dollars.

It is expected that the most affected area will be wheat exports, as 30% of wheat comes to Africa from Russia and Ukraine as the largest exporter of this food.

Over the past two months, wheat prices have risen by 25% due to geopolitical tensions, and Africa receives 36% of Ukraine's $4 billion wheat exports.

The field of education will also be affected, as Russia is the destination of African students, and to a greater extent Ukraine, which hosts tens of thousands of them, there are 8,000 Moroccan students, 4,000 Nigerian students, about 3,500 Egyptian students, and thousands more from Sudan, South Africa, Kenya, and quite a few other countries.


How did Africa deal with the developments of the crisis?

The positions of the African countries about the crisis varied before and after the war, but the most prominent feature that distinguished it was the collective silence of the majority of the countries of the continent.

  • The African Union: Its leadership represented by its President Macky Sall (President of Senegal) and Union Commissioner Moussa Faki expressed its deep concern about the dangerous situation in Ukraine, and called for respect for international law, regional and national integrity and respect for Ukraine's sovereignty, and urged the parties to immediately cease fire and open channels of political negotiations Without delay under the auspices of the United Nations.

  • ECOWAS: The Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) condemned Russia's war on Ukraine, called on the warring parties to resolve differences through dialogue, and demanded the safety of all ECOWAS citizens living in Ukraine.

  • Some individual positions emerged from some African countries, such as Sudan, which sent Lieutenant-General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the Sovereign Council, from which it was understood that it was a supportive position for Russia in its war on Ukraine.

  • As well as the position of the Ugandan General Muhuzi Kanirogaba, who is the son of the Ugandan president, and expressed his absolute support for Russia against Ukraine, and stated that "the majority of humanity (non-whites) supports Russia's position in Ukraine", and that "Putin is absolutely right."

  • A position emerged from South Africa rejecting Russia's war on Ukraine and demanding Russia to withdraw its forces. Central Africa also expressed a position in support of Russia's war on Ukraine.

Russian President Putin (left) and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg (Reuters)

How is the African position on the crisis affected by the position of the great alliances?

There is no doubt that the crisis, over time, will cast a thick shadow on the position of Africa and its continental and regional institutions. NATO has been active in this continent since the events of September 11, 2001, and has a partnership with the African Union and conducts joint patrols through its naval forces.

On the other hand, the Sino-Russian alliance constitutes a large presence in vital areas in Africa (economy, security and military aspects), and during 20 years of joint work, the partnership with the China-Russia camp is much greater than what is known at the level of NATO.

Undoubtedly, the size of the relations and the interdependence of interests between the conflicting parties and Africa will govern the level and degrees of influence, and perhaps it will not be easy if events develop for the worse.


What is the future of African relations with alliances in light of the current crisis?

Africa does not have the power that would qualify it to create a political orientation with a significant impact, and it also lacks the self-preparations to create a conscious balance that takes into account its interests. Therefore, the countries of the continent will remain subordinate, and look for the middle position to link their interests with all parties, as they are unable to dispense with NATO, and their interests Preponderant and big with the other camp, in addition to the lack of leaders of a revolutionary nature in Africa, capable of taking risks in favor of one alliance at the expense of the other.

According to the traditions of history, we may be facing a defining moment that reshapes balances on different bases. This will govern the extent of the development of events and the expansion of the scope of confrontations that may invite other parties to participate, as Britain called to fight alongside Ukraine, and Africa may find itself this time as well as a scene of the larger scene conflict. Especially as it will be the focus of competition for resources in the coming period.

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