Africa’s Aversion to Zelensky: 3 Month Outlook


    The fallout from Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has had far-reaching consequences beyond the boundaries of Europe. Across Africa, nations with food insecurities are feeling the heat from the war. The African Union is feeling the pressure of who to support from Russia, the West, and China. It is unlikely that Zelensky will get the support he’s vying for in Africa. It’s highly likely that support for Russia will grow as grain shortages become a decisive factor in gaining the African Union’s support.

    KJ-1. It is unlikely that Zelensky will be able to garner the support he needs in Africa in the next 3 months.

    • At a recent meeting between Ukrainian president Zelensky and the African Union, 93% of the African Union did not attend. The meeting was held over zoom with only leaders from Côte d’Ivoire, Libyan, Congo, and Senegal. Senegalese president Macky Sall is the Chairman of the African Union and has been meeting personally with Putin.  (Source)
    • Since the early 2000s China has been providing the African continent with economic support through its Belt and Road initiative. However, China has threatened to pull this economic support if Africa does not push back against Western interference in the war. (Source)
    • Global grain shortages as a result of the conflict have hit the African continent the hardest. The US is pressuring African countries which are already food insecure to not buy the wheat that Russia is now exporting. The African Union is primarily concerned about the state of affairs and doing what’s best for those within the continent. (Source, Source)

    Putin and Sall sitting in Chairs with flowers between them.
    Macky Sall, the Senegalese president/Chairman of the AU meeting with Putin. (Source)

    KJ-2. It is highly likely that grain exports will become a decisive factor in gaining Africa’s support over the next 3 months.

    • A commission from the African Union has stated that there is an “urgent need for dialogue” to fix the global instability due to grain shortages. (Source)
    • Western sanctions only prohibit the purchase of Russian wheat by Western nations. However, Russia has been claiming that the current food crisis is a result of these Western sanctions. Conversely, Western nations have been using their clout to pressure African nations to not buy Russian goods. Many African nations are choosing to give Russia the benefit of the doubt. (Source, Source)
    • 14 African nations rely on either Russia or Ukraine for over half of their grain supplies. Additionally, over half the continent relies on the two countries for a least a third of their grain supply. (Source)

    KJ-3. It is highly likely that support for Russia will continue to grow across the African Union over the next 3 months.

    • For over a decade now, support for Russia has been increasing across Africa. Russia lacks a history of colonialism in Africa. Additionally, it provided support to African nations during the cold war. As a result, many nations view Russia more favourably than Western nations. (Source)
    • Russia has significantly more pull than Ukraine in Africa. Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has much more to leverage. Additionally, they have been able to extend the reach of their foreign policy across Africa. Subsequently, Russia has been able to influence public opinion in its favour across the continent. (Source)
    • Although the African Union gave Zelensky a platform to speak they have made it clear that they don’t want to hear it. In fact, Representatives from the AU are travelling to Russia to discuss food and energy concerns adversely affecting Africa. Additionally, Russia has stated that it “highly appreciates the readiness of Africans to further step-up economic cooperation.” (Source, Source)

    Intelligence Cut-off Date: 11/07/2022

    Jordan Smith
    Jordan Smith
    Jordan is currently working on his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He is majoring in International Politics with a concentration in Security Studies and a minor in Russian language.

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