Russia, Ukraine, and why Africa should not be blackmailed

The question is, can all this result in the collapse of Russian economy or force Putin to rethink his Ukraine’s strategy by withdrawing from occupied territory? The incorporation of Ukraine’s four regions into the Russian Federation, the subsequent mobilization of 300,000 troops and Russia’s desire to cripple Ukraine’s energy infrastructure show Russia has no plan to stop its operation yet.

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Bashir Aliyu Limanci

Since Russia launched an all-out-war on Ukraine in February this year, the West slapped Russia with unprecedented sanctions that are economically more damaging than the sanctions imposed on Iran and North Korea put together. Russian banks were cut off from the SWIFT payment system; hundreds of Russian businessmen, entities and foreign assets were sanctioned and frozen. The target was initially to cripple the Russian economy and deprive Putin of the much-needed oil and gas revenues to continue to fund the war in Ukraine. Over $300 billions worth of Russia’s foreign assets were either seized or frozen in various European countries such as France, UK, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan and the US. The question is, can all this result in the collapse of Russian economy or force Putin to rethink his Ukraine’s strategy by withdrawing from occupied territory? The incorporation of Ukraine’s four regions into the Russian Federation, the subsequent mobilization of 300,000 troops and Russia’s desire to cripple Ukraine’s energy infrastructure show Russia has no plan to stop its operation yet.

The Kremlin’s Countermeasures

Russia has since soon come up with dozens of economic measures such as capital control, parallel import, forcing what the Kremlin calls ‘unfriendly countries’ that heavily rely on Russian natural gas, oil and energy to pay in ruble and restricted energy export to them which has been one of the key factors behind soaring energy prices in the global markets. Russia makes more money from oil and gas export despite the heavy sanctions. Russia has been able to continue trades with China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Latin American and African countries while continues to cause a  massive disruption to global energy markets, using its vast natural resources and leverage to influence the OPEC’s decisions to cut down oil production in order to keep oil price high, and strategically sabotage Biden’s attempt to stabilize oil price and punish Russia with price cap. With double-digit inflation in various European countries, support for further sanction on Russia is waning as more people have cut their spending to save money and prepare for the upcoming winter.

The Front line

As for the front lines, Russia keeps outfoxing the west by insisting that its operation in Ukraine is going according to plan. Despite heavy losses both Russia and Ukraine suffered in the 8-month conflict, what is obvious even among the most hawkish military pundits is Ukraine can never have the capability to seize back the annexed territories of Crimea, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Despite billions of dollars of foreign arms to Ukraine, Russia, by mobilizing another 300 thousand troops to fight in Ukraine, aims to not only seize more lands in Ukraine but also aims to turn Ukraine into a landlocked country which implies that regions such as Odessa, Nikolaev, and possibly Dnipro and Kharkiv! Without access to Black Sea, Ukraine would incur mounting economic losses, so heavy that even its staunchest allies would be reluctant to shoulder the country’s gargantuan bills forever. Sooner or later, Ukraine would be dumped and forced to make peace with Russia even though there is no sign of this happening anytime soon.

Does This Concern Africa?

The war in Ukraine has allowed African countries to develop multi-vector foreign policies which embody national interests and independent foreign policies. For Africa, America does not have the moral right to claim Russia is an aggressor when the country already invaded and destroyed Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria and millions of people have died and millions more have been displaced, and facing starvation and destabilization. How do you intend to convince Nigeria to take you seriously when our country is not even allowed to purchase precision-guided munitions, long-range missile, field artilleries and advanced drones to fight terrorists who threaten our existence? Look at Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya, Niger Republic and Angola, a lot of African countries are entrapped in protracted conflicts, and if NATO members armed us with less than half the weapons, they are shipping to Ukraine, we would have been able to defeat terrorism and rebellions. Imagine the success Nigerian military could have been recorded if the army had High Mobility Artillery System (HIMARS) that the US sent to Ukraine for free. Imagine Nigerian military has advanced surveillance drones, kamikaze drones, and massive artillery rockets that could allow our troops to strike terrorist hundreds of miles from the first line of defense. Nigeria has the money, but the west cannot sell us these weapons under the pretext of human right records, but Saudi Arabia and Israel receive weapons unencumbered. What we all know is Russia and Ukraine are not hostile to Africa, and the war between the two neighbors can only be solved through diplomacy not war. Africa should not be dragged into this geopolitical tug of war.

Conflict-prone areas in Africa are actually suffering from hunger, and our people are dying as a result, but Ukrainian refugees are warmly welcome in Europe with full access to virtually everything. A lot of African countries are learning to resist pressure to openly denounce Russia not because they support the country, but because the war in Ukraine is simply not her business.    

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