Russia has undoubtedly won friends and influenced people in Africa


The spectre of Russian interference as visualised by TVOntario, a Canadian publicly funded English language educational television station

Countries across the African continent have suited themselves in their response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Their reasons range from realpolitik to very real memories of Russian support for African liberation movements.

There is also the reality that Russia is willing to sell weapons in large numbers, no-questions-asked. By some accounts, including from Russia’s arms export agency, Russia sends Africa nearly half of all the weapons it imports.

Russia has also been pretty reliable about despatching mercenaries to embattled African governments and/or those who seek to destabilise them, Mali and Burkina Faso being a case in point. In fact, the Wagner Group’s hired guns currently keep the Central African Republic’s president alive. (Further back in time, Wagner’s men took part in Libya and Mozambique’s civil wars.)

So the reaction in Africa to Mr Putin’s war is nuanced, to say the least. Consider this:

** On February 23, the day before Russia’s aggression, the deputy leader of Sudan, a powerful paramilitary commander named Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, arrived in Moscow for an eight-day visit.

** Longtime US ally Morocco put out a remarkably pallid official statement about the invasion, which rather annoyed the Americans.

** Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, son of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, has actually tweeted in support of Mr Putin, saying: “The majority of mankind (that are non-white) support Russia’s stand in Ukraine.” Uganda, of course, is a major buyer of Russian weapons.

** A week into the invasion, Ethiopia marked its ties with Russian volunteers who sided with Ethiopian fighters against Italian invaders. The AFP’s sharp-eyed correspondent in Ethiopia, Robbie Corey-Boulet, noted on March 2 that a Russian flag had been seen at a key ceremony. He tweeted: “Russian flag spotted at this morning’s ceremony commemorating the 1896 Battle of Adwa, in which Ethiopia defeated Italian would-be colonizers”

There are several important reasons to examine the world’s reaction to Russia’s actions– by country and region – rather than to lump them all in with the western response. First and foremost, it’s the only way to get the truth rather than what one wishes were the truth. We’ll explore that next. (Click here and here for two earlier pieces in this series.)

Tomorrow: Why parse world’s reaction? To get the truth, not what you wish were the truth