• Kuleba says Kyiv had adopted its first African strategy and intensified its political dialogue with many countries on the continent.
• Adds that Ukraine wants to develop a new quality of partnership based on three mutual principles: mutual respect, mutual interests, and mutual benefits.
Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba has announced Kyiv's plans to open more embassies in Africa.
In his Africa Day address in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Minister Kuleba on Thursday said Kyiv had adopted its first African strategy and intensified its political dialogue with many countries on the continent.
"This year, we are going to establish new embassies in different parts of the continent and plan to hold the first Ukraine-Africa Summit. I invite the leaders of your countries to take part in this important event,” Kuleba said on his second African tour that started in Morocco.
One of the new embassies will be in Rwanda, which is currently covered by the mission in Nairobi. It seeks to boost cooperation in trade, digitalization, aerospace, construction, education, and pharmaceuticals.
Ukraine currently has about 10 embassies on the continent in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.
Russia has a wider footprint in Africa with about 44 embassies and consulates.
Kuleba's visit is largely seen as an attempt to challenge Russia’s influence on the continent amidst the February invasion. His Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov toured Africa in July 2022 and February 2023.
The Ukraine minister met among others African Union Chairman and Comoros President Azali Assoumani, AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Moussa Faki, Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Rwanda President Paul Kagame.
He said Ukraine wants to develop a new quality of partnership based on three mutual principles: mutual respect, mutual interests, and mutual benefits.
"I am glad to address you on the occasion of Africa Day while visiting the African continent for the second time in less than a year. This shows our true commitment to a new era of Ukrainian-African relations. We came to talk as equals and work as partners,” he said.
Despite being geographically distant, Kuleba said Ukraine and Africa share deep historical ties and have always shared and supported the aspirations of African nations towards independence, unity, and progress.
He added that as a co-founder of the United Nations, Ukraine has consistently defended and promoted the interests of African nations within the UN.
PEACE AND SECURITY
In an apparent pushback against Russia, Kuleba enumerated the various interventions Ukraine has played in Africa on peace and security.
"Ukraine has always been committed to maintaining peace in Africa and has significantly contributed to relevant global efforts. More than 300 Ukrainian blue helmets performed tasks within four UN missions in Africa: in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Abyei Area, and Mali,” he said.
He added that Ukrainian sailors have participated in international collective actions to counter maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia.
As of February 2022, he said, 80 per cent of Ukrainian peacekeepers abroad were deployed in African countries.
“We know the price of peace and the importance of maintaining it. Today, Ukraine is reinvigorating its foreign policy toward Africa aimed at a Ukrainian-African renaissance,” the minister said.
RUSSIA WAR ON UKRAINE
Kuleba noted that for more than a year, since February last year, Ukraine has been fighting a defensive war for its freedom and independence against Russian invaders.
"This is not a border dispute, but a war of aggression. Russia tries to establish control over Ukraine because it does not recognize our right to exist as a sovereign nation and choose our path of peaceful and prosperous development,” he said.
In this regard, he said, while there have been calls for peace from various countries and leaders, they think they need to be directed first and foremost to Russia as the country that started this war.
"Supporting Ukraine is not about being pro-Western or anti-Western. It is about respecting the UN Charter, international law and order, as well as the right of every nation to choose its own peaceful path of development.
"Angola’s President João Lourenço gave a precise definition of the current situation based on a similar experience of his country. He said: 'If we fought against the interventionists in the past, we understand that everyone else has the same right. And we do not understand how those people, who then helped us fight against the invaders, today annexed four regions of the neighboring state," he added.