Disunity will continue to undermine Africa’s interests

Editor, Reference is made to Kenneth Agutamba’s article, “Ukraine crisis can hurt East Africa” (Sunday Times, March 9).


Reference is made to Kenneth Agutamba’s article, “Ukraine crisis can hurt East Africa” (Sunday Times, March 9).

Agutamba’s opening paragraph seems to show that he has swallowed the Western narrative hook, line and sinker. In reality, Russian troops were already in the Crimea under a Russian-Ukrainian agreement that runs up to 2042 and which authorises Russian troops there to protect their naval base at Sebastopol.

Secondly, rightly or wrongly, the Russians can assert the legality of sending troops into Ukraine under a formal request of President Yanukovych, since Moscow refuses to recognise the government installed in Kiev by unlawful means, i.e. a non-constitutional putsch.

International constitutional lawyers could argue the legality of each side's position without ever agreeing. At the end of the day, it is Ukrainians, east and west, who will pay the highest price for this situation which is caused by internal fractures, themselves derived from previous injustices and tragic history and geopolitical rivalries between Russia on the one hand and the US and its allies on the other.

In the short term, real, effective sanctions against Russia would be double-edged for Western Europe. The Germans, for example, are dependent on Russian oil and gas for about 40% of their energy supplies. Any interruption of more than a brief period would be fatal to the EU's economic powerhouse. And so any anti-Russian sanctions are likely to be only symbolic, at least in the short term.

Over the middle to long terms, the US will underline the imperative need for Western Europe to cut its dependence on Russian energy as that diminishes Western (read American) leverage over Russia and conversely increases Russian leverage.

The US is also keen on finding export markets for its own new surplus production of oil and gas made possible by controversial technology.

Reducing Russian energy exports to Western Europe simultaneously frees market-share while also diminishing Russian foreign policy leverage and foreign exchange income; truly a trifecta.

And for us Africans? Our divisions are what keep us weak and entirely marginal in the calculations of this world's powers. Nothing will change this calculus until we discard divisions.

Mwene Kalinda, Rwanda


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