The US ambassador to the United Nations has warned African states that “do not engage with countries sanctioned” by the US, pointing out that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is harming the continent.
“Our sanctions against Russia are intended to discourage the Russians from continuing their aggression in Ukraine […] I would warn [African countries] not to get involved with countries sanctioned by the United States,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a speech sent to Lusa this Monday, 8 August, by the US embassy in Maputo.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield was speaking during her working visits to three African countries last week, namely Ghana, Cape Verde and Uganda.
For the diplomat, while African countries are free to make their own foreign policy decisions, the continent is also suffering from the impact of war.
“Africans have the right to decide their foreign policy positions, free from pressure and manipulation, free from threats. But let me be clear […] Previously, more than 190 million people were living in food insecurity after covid-19. Since the large-scale invasion in Ukraine, we estimate that number could rise to 230 million,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.
“The fact is that this hurts Africa,” the diplomat stressed, pointing out that Russia and Ukraine provide more than 40 per cent of the continent’s wheat supply.
“Regardless of how you feel about Russia, we all have a strong common interest in mitigating the impact of the war in Ukraine on food security,” added the diplomat, who further clarified that the sanctions the US is adopting against Russia do not apply to food and fertiliser exports, but rather for “commodities”.
The US diplomat’s position comes in a context in which Mozambique is studying the possibility of buying Russian oil, in roubles, if that option is viable, after Moscow presented Maputo with a willingness for that mechanism.
“I am sure that we will study and check the viability of that offer [from Russia], if there is viability, certainly [Russian oil] will be acquired,” in roubles, said Carlos Zacarias, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy.
Mozambique was among the countries that abstained on two resolutions that went to a vote at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly: one condemning Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine due to the war and the other suspending Moscow from the Human Rights Council.
The Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo, the ruling party) was an ally of Moscow during the time of the former USSR, receiving military support during the struggle against Portuguese colonialism and economic aid after independence in 1975.
According to official figures, the annual volume of economic transactions between Mozambique and Russia is estimated to be at least 100 million dollars.
On 24 February, Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine which has already killed more than 5,000 civilians, according to the UN, which warns that the real figure is likely to be much higher. The Russian military offensive has caused more than 16 million people to flee, more than 5.7 million of them out of the country, according to the latest UN figures.
Also according to the UN, 15.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine.
The Russian invasion was condemned by the international community in general, which responded by sending arms to Ukraine and strengthening economic and political sanctions against Moscow.