- Ukraine has urged African countries to lend their voice through international organisations and impose sanctions against Russia in a bid to stop the Russian invasion
- Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak urged all African countries not to overlook the attack by Russia
- Russia's invasion of Ukraine has created artificial energy and food crises in Africa following the blocking of Ukrainian ports that have prevented the export of food
- Already, Ukraine has kicked off plans to advance its relations with African countries
“We need Africa’s support.” This is Andriy Yermak, Chief of Staff of the President of Ukraine’s message to Africans and their leaders.
Ukraine is calling on African countries to rally and support all efforts to subdue Russia and prevent the Russian War in Ukraine from spreading to other countries in the world.
Yermak, a top aide in Ukraine’s president’s office sat down to exclusively speak with Legit.ng via zoom interview.
The former film producer who donned a black T-shirt inscribed “I’m Ukrainian” during the interview sent a clear message of his patriotism and love for his country.
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Speaking on the same day Ukraine was awarded European Union candidate status, he urged ordinary Africans, miles away, to raise their voices over the ongoing invasion and support Ukraine saying it’s in the best interests of all the nations of the African continent to support the efforts to subdue and punish Russia.
“We need Africa's support. The sooner Ukraine defeats the Russian army and ends the war, the less will people around the world suffer from economic and political problems. The victory of Ukraine and the end of the war will help the world overcome economic problems and allow to cope with the food crisis.”
So why should Africans care?
1. To prevent Russia from causing artificial famines in Africa
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has directly affected Africa and Yermak believes all Africans should be inclined toward Ukraine's victory.
Russia's aggression is the main reason for the hike in energy prices around the world, he explains as it has been deliberately reducing gas flows to EU countries to push up prices.
In addition, it has created artificial energy and food crises by blocking Ukrainian ports in the Black and Azov seas to prevent the export of Ukrainian food.
"The rise in food and energy prices translates to higher prices for all goods. This aspect directly touches the interests of the majority of the inhabitants of the African continent. You are well aware that a critical rise in prices is very likely to be followed by political instability, unrest, and even war," Yermak explains.
For years, Ukraine has been one of the main suppliers of wheat, sunflower oil, corn other products to African countries and according to United Nations analysts, Russia's actions could lead to famine and instability in dozens of countries.
2. To gain more security for people of Africa
According to Yermak, Africa is well acquainted with bloody dictators and if the international community does not punish Russia, new potential criminals in Africa might follow the example of the Russian leadership.
"The defeat of the Russian army on the battlefield and severe economic sanctions will show everyone that theirs' is the path to complete failure. The more harsh and unified the response of most countries of the world to Russia’s crimes, the more secure the people of Africa will be."
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s right-hand man further noted that Russia is exercising a colonial policy which was abandoned by the West in the 20th century during African colonisation, saying often neocolonialism is tied to economics but for his beloved country, Ukraine, it is a plain war of conquest.
"We are fighting colonisers. Russian troops have destroyed our settlements by hundreds, killed tens of thousands of civilians, and deported hundreds of thousands to Russia, where they are like slaves. Over 12 million people became refugees."
3. To stop a humanitarian crisis
Yermak who’s also a filmmaker painted a picture of the invasion saying Ukrainian citizens are faced with a humanitarian crisis.
"To tell everyone the truth. Russians behave like occupiers, no matter what picture the Russian propaganda shows. Their soldiers' r*ape, kill and rob. The State behaves like a marauder."
Several African countries including Nigeria have already shown support for Ukraine, by condemning the invasion.
Also, Kenya's Permanent Secretary to the United Nations (UN) Martin Kimani became a sensation after calling out Vladimir Putin for recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk areas of Ukraine as independent states.
Yermak expressed gratitude to these African states for voting in favour of Ukraine in the United Nations resolution which condemned Russia’s invasion.
"We are truly grateful to all the States that support justice, security, and peace on Earth. The most important thing is the restoration of the principles of international law. It is the renewal of Ukrainian exports to the regions for which it is vital. It is the development of mutually beneficial cooperation on a qualitatively new level."
However, he cautioned countries like South Africa that took a neutral position on the invasion terming their position to maintain their cooperation with the Russian Federation as erroneous.
"Moscow leaves no room for neutrality. It even made diplomacy a weapon. That is why, sooner or later, it will also affect the international position of its allies and sympathisers."
4. To find new opportunities in Ukraine-African relationships
While Ukraine calls for support from African people and leaders it's already on course, improving diplomatic relations with African states.
On June 20, 2022, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the leaders of the African Union and announced the expansion of relations between the country and African states, and further the appointment of Ukraine’s Special Representative for Africa.
Zelensky offered the leaders of African countries to visit Ukraine and start preparing a large political and economic conference 'Ukraine - Africa.'
The diplomacy which will comprise both public and unofficial elements will be carried out at both the Ukrainian Parliament and government levels.
"Ukraine spares no effort to create a format of global security that will really work. And we’ll be glad if African States join this process. The voice of Africa must be strong. And when the peace comes, it's in our mutual interest to expand our economic cooperation in order to mutually reinforce our enormous economic potential."
5. To protect common interests and shared values
Yermak underlines how similar is the experience of Ukraine fighting for independence to the African past. He remains confident that his state will emerge victorious.
"Courage is the trait we have in common with the people of Africa. We cannot be conquered with words or weapons. We want freedom. The Ukrainian people are fighting for their freedom and are ready to continue doing so. Our people are very brave,” he concludes.
Even in the past, Africa had close connections with Ukraine. According to the estimation, Ukraine gave a chance to gain education to 16,000 African students. The State Statistics Bureau of Ukraine shows the total number of African immigrants in Ukraine is more than 30,000 people.