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"Stand Against Russia, Africa!" - French Official

FILE: French Secretary of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships Chrysoula Zacharopoulou. Taken July 14, 2022.

France is calling on African nations to show "solidarity" with Europe after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a French minister told a gathering of regional leaders on Monday.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is "an existential threat to the stability and integrity of our continent," French minister Chrysoula Zacharopoulou said on Monday to the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security.

"This is what all Europeans are living through," she said. "That's why we expect solidarity from Africa.

"We can never repeat it enough: Russia is solely responsible for this economic, energy and food crisis," she told the conference, opened by African Union head and Senegal President Macky Sall.

The war has divided Africa, with nearly half of the continent's countries again abstaining or not voting to condemn Moscow's annexation of more Ukrainian territory at the United Nations on October 13.

Zacharopoulou assured the meeting that when Paris sends a military mission such as the Barkhane force to fight jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel it was not to "substitute" for local armies but to "support" them.

Sall told the conference "Africa is not against Ukraine. One shouldn't get the impression that Africans are insensitive to the situation in Ukraine. That's not it at all."

But, he said, many Africans felt that their own problems, such as security, the economy or health, were being ignored.

Sall added "This is 2022, this is no longer the colonial period.... so countries, even if they are poor, have equal dignity. Their problems have to be handled with respect."

Sall has called for an overhaul of international governance, and urged greater African representation on bodies such as the UN Security Council and the G20.