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ANALYSIS: Unpacking Africa’s divided stance on Russia-Ukraine war

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the United States (US) and European governments have been scrutinising Africa’s reactions. Views from the continent vary from country to country, with many states taking a ‘non-aligned’ position. How should this stance be understood in a multipolar and highly interdependent world?

African votes in the United Nations (UN) on the war revealed sharp divisions between countries.

Djibouti endorsed the UN resolution for Russia to end its offensive, while Algeria, Tanzania and South Africa underscored the importance of diplomacy without condemning Russia’s actions. The high number of abstentions was widely interpreted as a sign of Russian influence or evidence of the growing anti-Westernism of African governments and citizens.

This view wrongly assumes that Africa is a political monolith. It also suggests an underlying expectation by the West that states on the continent should align with them because of the West’s pre-eminence in development and humanitarian aid, and their shared historical past.

Does Africa’s tentative stance on the war show a rejection of key African Union (AU) principles, such as respect for territorial integrity, the inviolability of borders and the peaceful settlement of disputes?

The joint visit of Senegalese President Macky Sall and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat to Russia in June increased Western perceptions of a Russia-leaning ‘neutrality’. Mr Sall said his trip…

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