Panafrican News Agency

Africa at heart of military clash in Ukraine (Analysis)

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - The Russian-Ukrainian war, which has entered its third week, actually began ten years ago when former US President Barack Obama installed US short- and long-range missiles in the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe, which have now joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), observers say.

But war has become a reality in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea and the celebration in March 2019 of the 20th anniversary of Poland's membership of NATO.

The country is home to 5,000 American soldiers, whose aircraft noise and explosion of their bombs and missiles in exercises organized to mark the 20th anniversary of this membership resounded even in the secret rooms of the Kremlin Palace.

But Vladimir Putin has been patiently and carefully watching NATO enlargement and US military movements near Russia's borders. And rightly so, because Putin, an officer of the KGB, the main intelligence service of the post-Stalinist USSR, was stationed in Dresden at the time of the fall of the Wall.

He began his political career as mayor of St. Petersburg, a city in which he graduated from university with a degree in economics, and then became one of the closest advisors to President Boris Yeltsin, who made him director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in 1998, then president of the Russian government the following year.

The current war is in fact an armed conflict between Russia and the United States in preparation for the great war from which only a miracle can save humanity.

The United States has been preparing for the war for a long time, as evidenced by the large quantities of American weapons made available to Ukrainian soldiers to enable them to slow down the Russian advance, while at the same time making the economic sanctions, prepared and decided upon even before the war broke out, effective.

In addition, there are psychological sanctions on sports, art and even food, in order to demonize Russia. It is certain that the world before the war in Ukraine will not be the same after the conflict.

Putin's Russia is drawing new borders which, in the medium and long term, may lead to a uniform world.

It is from this point that we must open a window on Africa, a continent sacrificed by the determination of the borders made by the "Berlin Conference" (1884-1885) during which the colonial powers shared the African continent.

This led to, at the time, to the partition of Africa and even to the destruction of the continent, the division of African ethnic groups or even single African ethnic groups into several countries, before the birth, in 1963, of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) on the basis of a document that adopted the famous phrase "respect for the borders inherited from colonization".

Can this document stand up to Russia's desire to trace borders, a precedent in international law? Despite the fact that the armed conflict in Ukraine is thousands of kilometres away from Africa, the African continent is at the centre of the military clash and its unbearable and dangerous economic and other diplomatic and geostrategic consequences.

The positions of African countries towards the war in Ukraine fall into three categories. The majority of countries under Western influence are opposed to the war; others are in the minority and support Russia, and finally countries that claim to be neutral.

The planet, which is beginning to overcome the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic, is now going through the quicksand that prevails after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the outcome of which is uncertain.

But the question on everyone's mind in the old continent is: will the war stop at the borders of Ukraine, especially as the use of nuclear weapons and the outbreak of World War III dominate the pages of newspapers, television sets and the analyses of leading specialists around the world?

Fear and concern grip the hearts of those who know the consequences of nuclear power in a world where a force led by a president is attempting to re-establish single-pole dominance.

The same man, according to his critics, is the head of a nuclear force and wants to restore the glorious past of the Russian empire, which has fallen victim to the break-up and seeks to put an end to the domination of a single pole, namely the Western pole.

African countries are now at the heart of these threats to their economies and, in particular, to their food security, because any nuclear shock means the end of life on the beautiful blue planet.

Colonialism has changed the way of life of Africans who consume products they do not produce. In fact, given the weakness of agricultural systems in Africa and the lack of political will on the part of African leaders for food security, despite the existence in the continent of large areas of land favourable to agriculture and underground and above-ground water reserves, as well as large rivers such as the Gongo, Africa today imports at least 30 per cent of its consumption.

However, there are giant rivers on the continent, such as the Congo, the second largest in the world, with a hydraulic capacity of more than 40 m3/second, and its fresh water flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite this natural wealth, the agricultural projects of the Common Market and the decisions of the conference on food security, held in 2021 in Lusaka, have gone unheeded. In addition, the destruction of local seed reserves, as in Libya, and the adoption of genetic seeds that produce only once, have led African countries to import 30 per cent of their wheat needs from Ukraine and Russia, which means that many Africans are now threatened with starvation if the present war continues or expands.

The Senegalese citizen, for example, consumed before colonialism what he produced, millet, maize, etc., before the French colonialist changed his traditional food culture and introduced into the country, through his monopoly enterprises, rice and wheat, imported from his colonies in South-East Asia, notably Vietnam.

The Senegalese thus became consumers of bread in the morning and imported rice in large quantities for an average of three meals a day, which led them to neglect the production of local cereals, which had been available in the country for thousands of years.

In addition to cereals, most African countries that have experienced some development are forced to import fertilizers, especially phosphate, from outside and particularly from Ukraine, further extending the direct threats of the war in Ukraine to Africa.

But there is still hope, as Karl Marx said, "in every crisis there is an opportunity". And the hope of African leaders is to return to the spirit of the Bandung conference, the first nucleus of the birth of non-alignment, and to give existential attention to food security for their peoples, while emerging from the domination of neo-colonialism "of minds and bellies".

They must also exploit the resources of the continent which has everything, arable land, water, energy and human resources, the continent being the youngest part of the earth (65pc of its population, or about one billion people are under 25 years old).

Any idea that neglects the development of agriculture to attract young people and does not seek to solve the problems of poverty, malnutrition and unemployment will expose the continent to major threats, the most significant of which is the spread of hunger, due to the war in Ukraine, plunging Africa into a series of military coups that have already hit some sub-Saharan countries.

The consequences of this war threaten to throw thousands of young people into the arms of extremist organizations such as Daech, despite the existence in their countries of freshwater lakes and rivers, oil, gas and clean, renewable energy.

-0- PANA AD/IN/JSG/BBA/RA 15March2022