Ukraine’s foreign minister has urged African nations to support his country and end their neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In February, 22 of the African Union’s 54 member states abstained or did not vote on a U.N. General Assembly resolution marking the one-year anniversary of the war that called for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. Two of them — Eritrea and Mali — voted against the resolution.
At a news conference at AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukrainian officials “got very upset” when the African countries voted to abstain in the vote.
He said, “You are abstaining from support of independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity.
Kuleba has been in Africa this week on a tour that also included Morocco and Rwanda.
It is his second visit to Africa in less than a year, demonstrating, he said, Ukraine’s commitment to establishing a “new era” of relations with Africa, which, he admitted, has not received the proper attention in recent years.
He told reporters he is trying to explain to African leaders that remaining neutral against Russia is not the answer. He said, “By being neutral towards the Russian aggression against Ukraine you project your neutrality to the violation of borders and mass crimes that may occur very close to you if not, happen with you.”
In a pre-recorded message to African leaders gathering Thursday for an African Union anniversary celebration in Addis Ababa, Kuleba said supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia is not about being pro-Western or anti-Western, “it is about respecting the U.N. charter, international law and order, as well as the right of every nation to choose its own peaceful path of development.”