The African Union’s Travel Mandate

On his trip to Africa, Chancellor Scholz advocates the renunciation of cooperation with Russia – to no avail: Senegal’s president will fly to Moscow for talks.

BERLIN/DAKAR/PRETORIA (Own report) – On his first trip to Africa in office, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, is seeking to turn two influential African states against Russia. Senegal, where Scholz held talks on Sunday and South Africa, where he visits today have so far strictly refused, along with other countries on the continent, to support the western countries in their power struggle with Russia – for example, by adopting their sanctions. Public appeals by European ambassadors and high-ranking US government policymakers, such as Victoria Nuland, have so far been as ineffective, as threats of reducing development aid to those countries, refusing to renounce Russia. Scholz is now attempting to use the carrot, rather than the stick, and is promoting solidarity among “democrats.” South Africa is considered the most important regional power, Senegal is currently presiding over the African Union (AU). Senegal’s President Macky Sall announced on Sunday, in Scholz’ presence, that he will soon travel to Moscow for negotiations.

Not Prepared for Sanctions

To this day, the states on the African continent are refusing to join the western powers’ sanctions policy against Russia. The UN General Assembly vote on March 2, condemning Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, adopted with an overwhelming majority – with 141 of the 193 UN member states voting in favor, 5 voting against – confirmed that the continent is not prepared, without further ado, to join the West’s effort to isolate Russia. Hardly more than half of the African states, merely 28, were willing to openly condemn the war. Whereas only Eritrea took a clear stand supporting Moscow by voting against the condemnation, 17 African states abstained, 8 others did not even participate in the voting. Even before the UN voting, the West had applied considerable pressure. For example, in a newspaper article, 24 ambassadors of European countries called on the government of South Africa to choose the side of the West. “What the world needs now,” they wrote, is an unambiguous UN vote “to isolate Russia in light of its military aggression.”[1] Pretoria did not comply with their demand.

Unsuccessful Interference

The western powers have maintained pressure on the African states and repeatedly interfered in their domestic decision processes on questions of sanctions against Russia. For example, in late March, a US American delegation visited Senegal’s capital Dakar, to try to persuade the government to unequivocally renounce Moscow – to no avail. Upon their departure, a Russian delegation arrived for talks on promoting a more intensive economic cooperation.[2] Also in late March, Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary in the US State Department, and known for her earlier role in the putsch in Ukraine in 2014,[3] used an interview with an influential African journal to make a plea for consistent compliance with the USA’s sanctions against Russia: African nations should not allow Russia to use them to escape US and international sanctions.[4] Earlier, the US administration had used the occasion of a visit by the Commission Chair of the African Union (AU), Moussa Faki Mahamat, to attempt to compel him to side with the West – also to no avail.

No Video-Transmitted Address

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been rebuffed several times in his efforts to address a parliament on the African continent via video – or even to address the AU heads of states and governments summit. In mid-April it became known that Ukraine sought to have Zelenskiy address Kenya’s parliament. Nairobi rejected the request. Kenyan officials feared being dragged into a conflict between the West and Moscow, it was argued.[5] Chair of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat has repeatedly rejected similar Ukrainian requests. In late April, he tweeted that Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had reiterated President Zelensiy’s request to address the heads of states and governments of the AU in an online transmitted speech and to develop close ties to that African alliance of states. Mahamat said, for his part, he had “insisted” that a “peaceful solution to the conflict with Russia” must be found. Zelenskiy has yet to land a PR-effective appearance before an African parliament or an AU summit meeting.

No Mercenary Recruitment

Already at the beginning of March, Senegal’s government reacted with unusual harshness to attempts by the Ukrainian embassy in Dakar to recruit volunteers for its war against Russia, as has been quite common in western countries at the beginning of the war.[6] Foreign Minister Aïssata Tall Sall declared at the time that she learned “with astonishment” that on March 3, the Ukrainian embassy had posted such an appeal online on its Facebook page. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs then summoned the Ukrainian ambassador and issued a verbal protest note saying that such a blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations would not be tolerated. “The Ministry ... strongly urges the Embassy ... to immediately cease all procedures for the recruitment of persons of Senegalese or foreign nationality” from Senegalese territory. It was also pointed out, the note continues, “that the recruitment of volunteers, mercenaries, or foreign fighters on Senegalese sovereign territory is illegal and will be punished in accordance to the law.”[7]

Carrot Rather than Stick

After all western coercive attempts to force the African states to side with the West in its fierce power struggle against Russia proved a failure, the German government is, now, attempting to make progress by using cooptation. On Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared during his visit in Dakar that he is interested in an exchange of the obviously different views on the war in Ukraine. We are looking for a stronger solidarity among “democrats” around the world. “We must stand together in the world.”[8] Scholz linked this to the fact that Senegal is one of the five countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America, invited to attend the G7 Summit in late June in Elmau Germany – as “a sign of a world of cooperation.” Another of these countries is South Africa, where the Chancellor, today (Tuesday) will be seeking ways to closely engage the government to the West and to clearly renounce Russia.

On the Way to Moscow

In Senegal, Scholz was unsuccessful, at least for the time being. In the joint press conference with the German Chancellor on Sunday, President Macky Sall announced that he would soon be visiting Moscow, in his function as Chair of the AU. He has received the AU-mandate to negotiate the supply of grain and fertilizer.[9] He will then fly to Kiev to meet with Ukraine’s President Zelensiy. The visit to Kiev is not a priority. Therefore, there can be no talk of the AU renouncing Moscow.


For more information on Germany’s Policy toward Africa see: The Last Stronghold in the War Zone.


[1] Claudia Bröll: Die gute alte Zeit. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02.03.2022. See also “Isolate Russia”.

[2] Mawunyo Hermann Boko: Guerre en Ukraine : Dakar au centre d’une lutte d’influence entre les États-Unis et la Russie. 10.05.2022.

[3] ’Fuck the EU’: US diplomat Victoria Nuland’s phonecall leaked – video. 07.02.2014.

[4] Julian Pecquet: Exclusive: US State Department’s Nuland calls on Africa to stand up to Russia. 31.03.2022.

[5] Harry Misiko: Nairobi declines Ukraine request to address Kenyan Parliament. 12.04.2022.

[6] See also Kiev’s International Legion.

[7] Ukraine will Senegalesen für den Krieg rekrutieren – senegalesische Regierung geht auf die Barrikaden. 04.03.2022.

[8] Auf der Suche nach Gas und Verbündeten. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 23.05.2022.

[9] Pressekonferenz von Bundeskanzler Scholz mit Präsident Sall am 22. Mai 2022 in Dakar. 22.05.2022.