Senegal first, then Niger and South Africa: Olaf Schultz makes his first trip to Africa. But the Ukraine war is also haunting him on the other continent.
BERLIN/DAKAR – It’s a long-awaited trip: Federal Chancellor Olaf Schulz (SPD), repeatedly noted for his reserved nature, set out on his first trip to Africa nearly six months after taking office. Visits are scheduled to Senegal, Niger and South Africa, during which the consequences of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine will be discussed. Although the effects of the war are also being felt on the African continent, some countries have so far refrained from clearly distancing themselves from the Kremlin ruler. Other topics on the agenda include climate change, economic cooperation, combating the pandemic, and strengthening democracies on the continent.
Troubles in Europe caused by Putin’s war: Schulz travels to Africa
Even if Schulz has only visited his closest partners outside Europe since taking office in December 2021 – he has been chancellor in the US, Israel and Japan – the visit to the neighboring continent comes relatively early. Former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) only embarked on a longer trip to Africa two years after taking office. So Schulze’s current trip can also be understood as an important signal to African countries that countries will not be forgotten, despite the problems currently prevailing in Europe because of Putin’s war.
While SPD General Secretary Kevin Koenert made it clear just a few days ago that the chancellor’s sober style of leadership is his trademark, expectations for Schultz’s visit to Africa are high. Even if at least 18 countries did not vote in favor of the UN resolution on Russia, the Ukraine war worsened the humanitarian situation on the continent. The situation could escalate dramatically, particularly in the east.
The Ukraine war also reaches Africa: the humanitarian catastrophe could worsen
One of the reasons for the instability of the African continent for years is the current food crisis. According to Malteser International estimates, about 250 million people in Africa suffer from hunger or are at risk of malnutrition. Due to the conflicts, the situation in the Congo and South Sudan remains dire. Even if there are several kilometers between the African continent and the Ukraine war, the effects are still noticeable and can significantly worsen the situation.
“As a result of the aggressive Russian war in Ukraine, the global food situation has worsened significantly. Development Minister Svenja Schulz recently warned that the worst famine since World War II was imminent. But the situation could deteriorate not only in the Congo or in South Sudan: the most catastrophic situation is the century In Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya, persistent droughts put the lives of millions of people at risk.
Africa stands with Russia: Many countries do not support sanctions against Vladimir Putin
Despite the threat of hunger crises, it is not surprising that many African countries are not opposed to Russia and the head of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin. Russia’s ties to the neighboring continent are diverse and are not limited to security only. As reported by German News Agency, Moscow is also active in mining projects and has supported several independence movements in the past. Sympathy for Russia is especially great in South Africa. In the meantime, it is not excluded that Putin will use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war.
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Cape Town and Moscow are members of the BRICS Union, which also includes Brazil, India and China. For years, the federal government has worked to expand its position in Africa and continues to gain influence. It is therefore not surprising that South Africa, despite Russia’s war of aggression and alleged war crimes, still wants to rely on a diplomatic solution to the war between Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.
War in Ukraine Has Global Repercussions: Putin’s Invasion Overshadows Schultz’s Trip to Africa
It is now clear in many places that the Ukraine war not only affects Europe, but has global repercussions and will always accompany Olaf Schultz on his journey to Africa – even if other topics sometimes play an important role. It is not without reason that Senegal is the beginning of the journey: the West African country currently holds the presidency of the African Union, and therefore is considered a key country between Germany and politics on the continent.
In Niger, Schulze will attend the German Army Special Forces training mission. According to a dpa report, Schulze will get an idea of the Gazelle mission. This is his first visit to the troops abroad. Schulz will also make an important visit to South Africa. Germany has always been considered an important partner of Germany in economic, political and cultural relations. (with articles from dpa)