Why Ukraine’s struggle is Africa’s struggle Why Ukr…
Valeria, a software engineer from Donetsk, asks countries that support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “What’s stopping them from being next?” »
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy has a message for Africa. He says, “You can make a choice: money or freedom. My proposal, and my choice, is for freedom. If you choose money, you lose freedom.
Her Kyiv counterpart, Vitali Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, says: “You can’t be half pregnant. Right now, war is black and white. Are you for peace and do you support Ukraine or do you support the aggressors, Russia?
The leaders of the 40 countries that voted to abstain or were against the two UN resolutions condemning the Russian invasion are on the wrong side of history. It is not just because they failed to condemn a violent transgression of international law or that the Russians perpetrated acts of violence against civilians on a scale that could amount to a war crime.
Ukrainians, after all, do not bomb and bomb themselves. The atrocities committed in Bucha did not happen by themselves. They are the consequence of a Russian leadership that misinterpreted Ukrainian and Western will and now seeks to win the war by terrorizing civilians as the Nazis did 80 years ago.
Ukraine’s struggle is Africa’s struggle, for several reasons.
The first concerns rights and responsibilities. This war represents a struggle between two different value systems and the choices they offer.
Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than by the transformation that Central and Eastern Europe has undergone since the end of the Cold War, a war that itself has maintained a division between free and unfree political and economic systems.
The ultimate symbol of this was the erection of the Berlin Wall between East Berlin and West Berlin, to prevent people from leaving the Eastern bloc.
Despite the challenges, these reforms have been replicated in all former Eastern Bloc countries as they transitioned from Soviet rule to today’s modern economies.
While capitalism may be imperfect, it is, to paraphrase Churchill, the least imperfect economic system there is.
It should be noted that the 140 countries that voted with Ukraine at the UN represent more than 71% of the world’s economic wealth; those who abstained, 23%; and the five who voted against, only 2%. Yet the 140 countries represent only 40% of the world’s population, which shows, if nothing else, that whatever setbacks liberal democracy continually faces, economic choices matter.
It is this system that Ukrainians – and many Russians – dream of and that President Vladimir Putin’s Russia fears. It is the system that strongmen everywhere fear because it challenges the power of elites and oligarchies.
The second related reason is that Africans recognize the power of closer regional political and economic integration. Ukraine’s per capita income is, at $3,500 a year, 10 times lower than the average for European Union member states. The neighboring Poland reminds us of the benefits of such integration, with an average individual income which has increased tenfold over the past 30 years. Most Ukrainians want to enjoy the freedoms and incomes of their Western European neighbours.
It was a combination of choosing European integration over Putinism and a heavy dose of Ukrainian patriotism that gave rise to the Euromaidan protests of 2014. These put Ukraine on a collision course with Russia as it struggled to rid itself of Russian interference and patronage, foreign factors with which African states are all too familiar.
Ukraine wants closer ties, for good reason, with the West, the entity that Putin calls the “empire of lies”.
The third reason why African states support Ukraine is that it is in their economic interest to do so, in the short and long term. The net effect of the strangulation of Ukrainian exports of maize, wheat and sunflower, of which it is one of the world’s top five exporters, will have dramatic and costly implications for African food security, particularly for developing countries. North Africa, including Egypt, Ethiopia and Tunisia. , which depend on these sources of supply. Russia and Ukraine account for about 30% of world wheat and barley exports. Ukraine also provides 15% of world corn exports.
Any price hike, which usually goes hand in hand with an increase in the cost of fuel, could have dramatic social and political implications in the poorest markets, where food insecurity is a risk.
The fourth reason has to do with the generational change represented by the dynamic leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, unlike that of Putin.
Russia is changing from within. Its demographics mean that bIn 2030, Russia’s current population of 143 million is expected to fall by almost 10%. This will have an impact on the political and social landscape of Russia. Today, more than 20% of Russia’s population was born after 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2032, this population will represent almost half of all Russians.
This generation is unlikely to continue to sustain nostalgic glories, especially if the Russian economy declines as the noose of sanctions tightens.
Africa must not ignore this crisis, realpolitik or not. For the two-thirds of Africans who support democracy over other versions of government, Ukraine’s survival as an independent, democratic nation is in their interest.
For Africans interested in sovereign stability, defending Ukraine’s right to exist is in their interests. By supporting human rights and international law, Africans should recognize that Ukrainians have been wronged and need international support, and that Russia deserves criticism. To remain silent on this subject is to condone force at the expense of what is fundamentally right, a criticism often leveled at the West.
A vote for Ukraine is a vote against strongmen, and a vote for those interested in reform, the checks and balances of political authority and those who seek economic openness as a vehicle for trade and wealth.
This conflict is, in essence, the result of a process of state capture and imagination by the Leningrad branch of the KGB to control major political and other aspects of life in Russia, as much as it was based on a completely erroneous understanding of contemporary Ukraine.
There is no contradiction in criticizing Russia, supporting sanctions and helping Ukrainian victims while encouraging a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
On the contrary, it is the right thing to do.
Just 250 km from the Polish-Ukrainian border, in the city of Krakow, is the site of the former DEF, or Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik – German Enamelware Factory. During World War II, its owner, Oskar Schindler, managed to save the lives of 1,200 Jewish workers. His journey has been a personal metamorphosis from a rational and profitable business approach in a privileged position to an ethical approach.
Outside the walls of the museum today stands on the site a plaque with the words: “He who saves a life, saves the whole world”. It is an expression of the practice more than the rhetorical universality of human rights, which African leaders should take into account in their actions on Ukraine. DM
Read part one and part two here.
Dr. Greg Mills writes this from Ukraine. www.thebrenthurstfoundation.org. Go to Why Ukraine’s struggle is Africa’s struggle – YouTube for the crisis video.