For more on Kuleba’s 10-day tour of the continent and his chances of swaying the continent toward Ukraine, VOA’s Carol Van Dam spoke to Ousmane Sène, director of the West Africa Research Center.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: What are your thoughts on relations between Africa and Ukraine?
Sène: Ukraine came up in Africa, only because of the Russia’s invasion. If it was not for Russia’s invasion, another year would have gone by in Africa without Ukraine being known.
Historically, Africa has neither had strong nor close ties with Ukraine, which is not the same for Russia. Russia has been there for Africa in a very visible manner, which started immediately after the cold war.
In our history, there has been several professionals and senior leaders who received training in the Soviet Union, some even got married there and later returned to the continent.
VOA: Do you think Russia has controlled the narrative on the continent regarding the war in Ukraine?
Sène: Russia controls the narrative in countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union. It was the story of Russia as the old empire and the communist countries led by Russia.
VOA: Why have so many African countries refused to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine?
Sène: Why is that with all the crisis in Africa, there is not much attention from the rest of the world? We have a crisis in Mali and Burkina Faso who are fighting Jihadists. Those questions should be considered.
Africa has gotten the impression that people want to drag them into the situation, but when it comes to conflicts or crisis situations in Africa, nobody budges.
I have heard several leaders echo those sentiments. Geographically the war is far away from us and politically too, in terms of diplomatic relationships.