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Big challenge: Ukraine fights against Russian disinformation in Africa

Big challenge: Ukraine fights against Russian disinformation in Africa Ukraine fights against Russian disinformation in Africa (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The Influence of Russia in Africa, which has been growing for decades, remained steadfast despite Ukraine's previous lack of attention to the continent. Following the demise of the founder of the PMC Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose mercenaries were highly active in many African countries, Moscow plans to continue expanding its influence in the region.

This is outlined in more detail in RBC-Ukraine's article titled "Heading South: How Ukraine seeking allies beyond Europe and US."

According to RBC-Ukraine, the focus is on about a dozen countries, mostly former French colonies. The report discusses both Russian military presence and their interest in exploiting natural resources, particularly uranium.

Recently, the US State Department publicly disclosed the existence of an entire Russian propaganda center targeting African countries. Russian propaganda poses a significant challenge for Ukraine, acknowledges Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa Maxym Subkh, as Russia possesses substantial financial, technical, and manpower resources to push its narratives and fakes regarding aggression against Ukraine.

"Last year, we organized two courses for African diplomats and politicians, telling them about the nature of Russian aggression, about Wagner, and the threats from cooperation with Russia. Of course, the counteraction will continue. Thanks to the help of our Western partners, we are working to minimize the effects of propaganda. And where we do not have time, we engage our partners to help us," said the diplomat.

Relations between Ukraine and Africa

Back in 2022, an African strategy was approved, the development of which began even before Russia's massive invasion. A year later, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba embarked on two African tours, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held dozens of meetings with leaders of African countries, and presidents of South Africa, Zambia, Senegal, Prime Minister of Egypt, and other African officials visited Kyiv and met with the head of state. After visiting Ukraine, the leaders of African countries traveled to Russia, where they met with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.

In August 2023, Kuleba admitted that Ukraine does not seek to replace Russia in its "dominance" on the African continent. On the contrary, it wants to build relations with African countries and help them break free from Kremlin influence. Additionally, during the Defense Industry Forum in September 2023, Kuleba mentioned that Africa is not only interested in buying Ukrainian weapons but also keen on establishing its own production facilities on its territory.