From July 23 to 27, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Egypt, the Republic of Congo – Brazzaville, Uganda and Ethiopia. During these visits, which covered the Northern, Eastern and Central Africa, he was received by the heads of these States, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers.
The special significance of this visit was due to the fact that it took place in the midst of Russia’s Special military operation in Ukraine, which began on February 24, and desperate attempts by Western countries to isolate Russia in the international arena, and discredit its actions in the field of international politics.
The very fact of this visit and the warm welcome extended to the Russian minister by African leaders showed that there is no international isolation of Russia, and the discourse of the USA and the EU aimed at shifting on Moscow the responsibility for all possible problems in the sphere of politics and economics in the world does not resonate on the African continent. And this is despite the fact that the main invectives of the Western “partners,” including the alleged provocation of hunger on a global scale by Russia, undermining global food security, support of “illegitimate” regimes and, in general, undermining the “rules-based” system of international relations, have been repeatedly and in different tones expressed in the speeches of Western European and American politicians. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman “spoke out” especially aphoristically about Russia’s position in an interview for The Economist on July 30: “We all stand in solidarity with the UN Charter, where issues related to territorial integrity, the right to independently determine one’s own political future and the importance of sovereignty are clearly spelled out, and Putin just violated all these principles at once.” Naturally, there were also references to “the existence of a rules-based order.”
So why do these seemingly convincing arguments, in the opinion of the collective West, not have an effect on African leaders? Why do they welcome with open arms a representative of a country that “committed an unprovoked aggression,” and even defiantly receive him at the highest level?
Some of the answers to these questions were voiced at numerous press conferences that Sergey Lavrov gave during the trip, but it doesn’t make sense to quote them all here – everyone who wishes to do so will find them on the Internet. However, it would be worth mentioning some of the things that remained behind the scenes.
Firstly, African countries are well aware of the hypocrisy and duplicity of the West in terms of the principles it proclaims, including those mentioned by Wendy Sherman in an interview with The Economist and French President Emmanuel Macron during his trip to African countries which started on July 25, that is, simultaneously with Sergey Lavrov’s trip (Macron visited Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau). France has repeatedly staged bloody coups in the countries of the “Dark Continent” and promoted its henchmen who ensured French political and economic interests. Quite well-known, or rather infamous, are the so-called white elephants – development projects in Africa, for which huge funds were allocated, but which were not implemented, and the resources were plundered jointly by the French and local elites brought to power by Paris. And this is without mentioning the centuries-old colonial period, when human and natural resources were pumped out of Africa, which provided the splendor of European royal courts and the prosperity of Europe, still admired by many, including some pro-Western figures.
Secondly, many African countries have already personally tasted all the delights of the “rules-based world,” when any disagreement between the policies of African countries and Western standards, and often an invented disagreement, turns into absolutely illegal and unilateral sanctions, as happened recently with Zimbabwe, the Central African Republic or Mali, and many others. And a number of countries, both in African and beyond, have simply been physically destroyed, and their statehood and sovereignty dismantled as a result of aggressive and absolutely illegal actions of the West, as shown by the actions of Western powers, including France, in Libya in 2011. Moreover, the West does not even bother to invent excuses for such sanctions. They are all typical and have not changed for decades: corruption, violation of human rights and disregard for the norms of democracy, which for some reason should exist exclusively in the Western interpretation.
Thirdly, Africa is starting to think about what Sergey Lavrov mentioned in his press conference in Addis Ababa at the end of his visit to Ethiopia on July 27. Now any African leader will think a hundred times whether to place his country’s reserves and his personal holdings in the dollar zone and in Western banks. These leaders were clearly convinced by the example of Russia that any so-called “sacred rights of private property, its inviolability” will be brazenly violated if the West decides that any country or figure has taken actions that contradict the interests of the West or the “rules-based world.” At the same time, it is well understood in Africa that if these countries place their funds in Russia or in the accounts of its banks, nothing like this will happen! The same applies to real estate. One can hope that in the near future Russia will offer people who are foreigners in their own country both conditions and guarantees for the placement of funds and the purchase of real estate, which will be reliably protected from any risks of confiscation and freezing.
In this context, the US and Europe understand perfectly well that cheap anti-Russian propaganda with worn-out talking points about the “aggressiveness of Russians” in Africa, which was freed from the shackles of colonialism with the decisive help of the USSR, has lost all its effect both in Africa and in many countries elsewhere, and sometimes even turns against its messengers. But the show must go on, and rest assured that all the clichés of Western myths about Russia will be repeated a thousands times more, and the collective West will not bother with rationales. In order to disseminate these myths, numerous emissaries from European capitals and the United States are sent to Africa to convince Africans not to cooperate with Russia and not to take part in the second summit of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, scheduled for 2023. It is for this purpose that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will go to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda on August 2.
Africa has already learned the lessons of history well and perfectly sees the results of the thirty-year war of the group of neoconservatives ruling the United States against the entire developing world, and the last episode in this bloody series was provoking of Russia to start its operation in Ukraine.
Oleg Pavlov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.