Blinken flies to Africa’s ‘superpower’ battlefield

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Secretary of State Anthony Blinken flies to the battlefield of a great power when he heads to Africa this weekend. But he’s not the new Captain America in the Marvel movie. He is the latest senior diplomat to enter the ring in the battle for influence on the continent between the United States, China and Russia.

In the past few weeks, the envoys of Washington and Russia have traded accusations against each other over Ukraine and related food issues, while sitting down with African leaders.

“People are starving. People are suffering,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield said as she fired a volley of bullets into the Kremlin. “The cause of the food insecurity crisis in Africa at this moment is Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.”

Reacting to the Biden administration, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hit back when he swept across Africa just last week, claiming that food shortages in Africa were “due to the totally inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions, undermining the availability of food in the markets.”

In this published photo released by the Russian Foreign Ministry’s press service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as they meet in Entebbe, Uganda, on July 26, 2022.
(AP newsroom)

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After his trip to Asia, Blinken will arrive on the continent this weekend and, as the State Department noted, will send the message that “African countries are geostrategic players.” Blinken will show his friendly face when he sits down with the leaders of South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda over the next week.

“The timing and intentions of Blinken’s visit are clear and unambiguous,” Prial Singh, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, told Fox News. There is a “geopolitical competition for influence among African countries after the Russian invasion of Ukraine”.

“While the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister served to some extent to make it clear that Russia can look to partners on the continent in order to address its increasing isolation among Western countries, Blinken’s visit can, accordingly, underscore the renewed geostrategic and importance of the continent “.

But the secretary of state will not find it all easy, says Singh: “Blinken will have to be particularly tactful in how the United States can bolster further support for its position on the invasion of Ukraine, given the fact that key foreign policy officials and decision-makers in the ruling parties maintain In a number of African countries a well-established global view of international affairs.

Belkin’s visit to Southeast Asia highlights the importance of a possible battle with China

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attended the 13th BRICS Summit via video link in Beijing on September 9, 2021. It was chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attended the 13th BRICS Summit via video link in Beijing on September 9, 2021. It was chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(Yu Yue/Xinhua via Getty Images)

This is to say the least when it comes to Blinken’s first station, South Africa. The country is a member of the BRICS, the commercial and political fan club whose members also include Brazil, Russia, India and China. Politicians here still believe in giving back in exchange for the Kremlin’s historic support for the fall of apartheid. South Africa was one of 17 countries that abstained from voting in the United Nations General Assembly, instead condemning Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

“South Africa is not indifferent to what is going on in Ukraine,” Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy at South Africa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Fox News. “We continue to emphasize that dialogue, mediation and diplomacy are the only way to end the current conflict,” he added.

Monyela stressed South Africa’s support for the Non-Aligned Movement, noting that Pretoria would not take the side of Ukraine, and added, “We have resisted indulging in the policies of confrontation and aggression called for by powerful countries.”

The Biden administration has no easy time in its efforts to influence African nations to see Washington’s way. Ambassador Thomas Greenfield met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni this week, and in explaining the diplomatic rhetoric, the US envoy made her point: “They discussed efforts to help mitigate the impact of the Russian war on Ukraine on global food security and commodity prices.” According to the US mission to the United Nations on behalf of, UN spokeswoman Melissa Quartell.

Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken waves as he boards a plane to leave Algiers on March 30, 2022

Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken waves as he boards a plane to leave Algiers on March 30, 2022
(Jacqueline Martin/Paul/AFP via Getty Images)

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But the seat in which I sat, in the seat of the presidency, was still warm from Lavrov’s Russian visit just days before. Standing beside the Russian foreign minister, Museveni lyrically said, “If Russia makes mistakes, we tell them, but when they don’t make a mistake, we can’t be against them.”

When Museveni was asked about Thomas Greenfield, his response was not in a friendly tone: “No one can give us instructions,” he told the BBC.

Analysts say another indication that the United States is not making its way in Africa is the warning against buying Russian oil or gas that Thomas Greenfield issued as soon as she emerged from the meeting with Museveni: “If a country decides to engage with Russia where there are sanctions, they are breaking those sanctions.” She added, “So…they have a chance to take action against them.”

Secretary of State Blinken has not hinted at such threats. But even before his plane entered African airspace this weekend, the Atlantic Council joined others in criticizing the timing of the flight. “This visit is almost too late, and it comes after Lavrov’s,” Ambassador Rama Yad, senior director of the council’s Africa Center, told Fox News.

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“South Africa, and outside the African continent itself, is so strategic that everyone should have understood this before Lavrov’s trip. Moscow treats African countries as strategic partners.”

Yade concluded that support in Africa strongly favors Russia: “Vladimir Putin attended the last BRICS summit as a guest of honor, while Volodymyr Zelensky’s online speech at the African Union summit in June was followed by only four African heads of state.”

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