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African Union President Tells UNGA Continent Won’t Be ‘Breeding Ground of a New Cold War’

© AP Photo / Mary AltafferPresident of Senegal and African Union chairperson Macky Sall addresses the 77th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.
President of Senegal and African Union chairperson Macky Sall addresses the 77th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.09.2022
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Since Russia launched its special operation in Ukraine in February, NATO powers have attempted to pressure the rest of the globe to sanction Russia’s economy and condemn the operation. It’s part of a yearslong effort to push nations to sever relations with Moscow and isolate it.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Tuesday, Senegalese President Macky Sall, who currently chairs the African Union, said that Africa “does not want to be the breeding ground of a new Cold War.”
“I have come to say that Africa has suffered enough of the burden of history; that it does not want to be the breeding ground of a new Cold War, but rather a pole of stability and opportunity open to all its partners, on a mutually beneficial basis," Sall said.
“We call for a de-escalation and a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine as well as for a negotiated solution to avoid the catastrophic risk of a potentially global conflict,'' he added.
The United States especially has pressured African nations to pick sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which began in earnest in February, although its origins go back to the 2014 coup in Kiev by US-backed forces. Washington has threatened nations if they break its sanctions against Moscow.
African nations collectively imported $12.6 billion worth of Russian goods in 2020, including 30% of its grain imports, as well as fertilizers and petroleum products, all of which have increased in price thanks to interruptions due to the Ukraine conflict, Western sanctions, and the global problem of inflation.
When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited South Africa last month in an attempt to woo Pretoria away from its neutral stance, his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, told him in no uncertain terms that “We should be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine as we are with what is happening to the people of Ukraine.”
At the UNGA on Tuesday, Pandor said that the UN should lead “a process of diplomacy” between Moscow and Kiev to bring an end to the conflict.
© Sputnik ScreenshotUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hold a joint press conference in Pretoria, South Africa, on August 8, 2022.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hold a joint press conference in Pretoria, South Africa, on August 8, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.09.2022
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hold a joint press conference in Pretoria, South Africa, on August 8, 2022.
When South African President Cyril Ramaphosa came to Washington last week, he also told US lawmakers that "if the Countering Malign Russia Activities [in Africa] bill were to become a US law, the law could have the unintended consequence of punishing the African continent for efforts to advance development and growth.”

From Mali to the Central African Republic, nations frustrated with fruitless Western military aid have been rejecting those partnerships and turning to nations such as Russia for help instead. In each case, the switch is greeted in the West with claims of Russian “malign influence,” including social media campaigns and claims that Russian private military contractors have been secretly dispatched there by orders of the Kremlin and are committing war crimes.

The latest nation to see protests against France’s military presence and express support for a Russian partnership is Niger, where France has waged a War on Terror-style military campaign against Islamist militants for nearly a decade, and which labors heavily under an unequal relationship with Paris, its former colonial ruler.
© AFP 2022 / BOUREIMA HAMAA man holds a placard reading "The colonial army (Barkhane) must leave" as people demonstrate against French military presence in Niger on September 18, 2022 in Niamey. - French forces first intervened in the Sahel's jihadist emergency in 2013, sending troops to support Malian forces fighting a regional insurgency. It widened the effort a year later with Operation Barkhane, eventually deploying some 5,100 troops, warplanes and drones in former colonies Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. (Photo by Boureima HAMA / AFP)
A man holds a placard reading The colonial army (Barkhane) must leave as people demonstrate against French military presence in Niger on September 18, 2022 in Niamey. - French forces first intervened in the Sahel's jihadist emergency in 2013, sending troops to support Malian forces fighting a regional insurgency.
It widened the effort a year later with Operation Barkhane, eventually deploying some 5,100 troops, warplanes and drones in former colonies Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. (Photo by Boureima HAMA / AFP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.09.2022
A man holds a placard reading "The colonial army (Barkhane) must leave" as people demonstrate against French military presence in Niger on September 18, 2022 in Niamey. - French forces first intervened in the Sahel's jihadist emergency in 2013, sending troops to support Malian forces fighting a regional insurgency. It widened the effort a year later with Operation Barkhane, eventually deploying some 5,100 troops, warplanes and drones in former colonies Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. (Photo by Boureima HAMA / AFP)
Similar claims have been made about China’s growing relationship with African nations, especially those that become part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an infrastructure megaproject initiated by Beijing. Western institutions have claimed China engages in “debt-trap diplomacy” to compel borrower nations to follow its foreign policy, but investigations have proven that on the contrary, it is Western financial bodies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that engage in such practices, which Chinese lenders are comparatively “hands-off” and regularly write off poor nations’ debts.
Sall told the UNGA that Africa is “a continent determined to work with all of its partners'' to address its needs, which include access to the basic necessities of modern life, such as electricity, medical care, and running water. The continent has also lagged behind the rest of the world on COVID-19 vaccination, with no indigenously-made vaccines and a handful of locations in Africa making foreign vaccines on contract.
Aside from Ethiopia, the entire continent fell under the reign of European empires during parts of the 19th and 20th centuries, leading to mass death, the destruction of traditional systems of life, and chronic economic underdevelopment. Since African nations gained independence, most have been forced to maintain neo-colonial relationships with their former colonizers, whose resource extraction has continued unabated.
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