Respect Gwenzi Financial Analyst
AS the war in Ukraine enters the second, the world is increasingly looking at ways of increasing pressure on Russia to end the crisis and withdraw its forces from its neighbouring country to the west.
Some alliances have been critical in this move and these include the European Union (EU), a 27-member bloc and the US, a pivotal western ally and world economic and military powerhouse.
The EU has taken particular interest because the war in Ukraine is right on its doorstep, on European soil and not only so but rather threatens regional peace, core values of democracy, territorial and economic stability.
The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has called the war a fight for democracy and freedom, two of the founding principles of a modern European state.
The USA also believes and champions these same values and thus feels the war against Ukraine threaten these fundamentals.
It also sees the proliferation of Russian aggression as a threat to global geo-political stability and the world order.
The modicum of response has increased from targeted sanction on the Putin administration to wider crippling economic sanctions almost sure to ground the Russian economy in due course.
The EU and US have increased supplies to Ukraine with military aid to boost its resistance, which so far has gone beyond expectations.
While this has been happening, China has taken a dodgy stance on Russia.
The emerging world power has, in some instances, maintained neutrality while at times it has hinted on supporting Russia.
At the most recent UN General Assembly in the US, China was among the few absentee voters.
It has also refused to acknowledge that the move by Russia to invade Ukraine is indeed an invasion, but a special operation, as Putin has chosen to coin it.
China is a major trading partner for both Russia and Ukraine.
What has been more telling from the Russia, Ukraine war is the stance by African countries, including Zimbabwe.
African countries with exception of Ghana and Kenya, have chosen the path of neutrality in the ongoing war.
At the UN General Assembly held on Wednesday in US, a motion was tabled and put to vote, regarding the condemnation of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine and a call for Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine.
Of the 193 members of the Assembly, 141 supported the motion, while only five were in disfavor. 35 countries absconded from the vote.
Among the 35 who absconded from the vote were 16 African countries including South Africa.
Most of the countries which voted in favour of the motion were European.
What this vote shows based on the outcome is that the vote although overwhelming was largely on geographical lines among other factors.
The most obvious answer will be that for most of the European UN General Assembly members, they are closely located to Russia and Ukraine and a war closer to them have ripple economic effects on their respective economies.
European countries are trading partners and this includes Russia and Ukraine, they export a large amount of goods and services to each other annually.
Russia supplies 25% of Europe’s gas exports and an even larger 40% of the total gas exports to Germany, which is Europe’s largest economy.
There is therefore an ongoing trade disruption, which however is not yet at the scale of the Covid-19 pandemic period.
These disruptions are already being felt through surging oil prices, although intensified by the sanctions.
While this appears to the most pertinent reason, Europe also largely feels that its core values of democracy are being threatened by the invasion.
Russia’s move is a first in post-World War era and it threatens the world order, which has been largely premised on democratic values and respect for territorial boundaries.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine also symbolise antagonistic world views between autocratic and democratic powers.
Russia is regarded as an authoritarian regime with little to no freedom and attendant rights.
It is classified together with China which is a one party state and largely authoritarian but economically successful.
A Russia triumph weakens the resolve of democracy and is a direct challenge to those that champion democracy especially the West and the US.
The above assertions are close to predictability, but how best does one explain the vote by African countries and its implication.
Africa primarily was colonised by the West and upon gaining independence, most inherited democratic values.
This is why most of the African nations have historically pursued democracy as governance standard.
Further, African countries rely on the rich Western nations for aid and other support such as funding and hence, a variation from the democratic processes by the former attracts punishments in the form of curtailed aid and funding.
These punishments are largely categorised as sanctions.
A number of African countries are on Western sanctions and these include Zimbabwe, among others.
The emergence of China as a World power, has curtailed the ambition of the West as China move to align with the maligned African countries.
China, itself a non-believer in democracy, does not ask for much in return of its funding and support.
Some African countries particularly those with not so good relations with the West have sought to align with China and Russia.
While Russia is a not a global super power in terms of economics, it has also extended a hand to countries with poor record of democracy in exchange for political alliances.
This, however, is not the reason why Africa absconded from the UN General Assembly vote.
The abstentions were motivated in part by Africa’s feeding trough syndrome, where it neither wants to rattle the West, a traditional aid sponsor and Russia, an ally of China, which in turn is an emerging world power on the economic front.
South Africa said it absconded because the resolution lacked emphasis on the pursuit of dialogue to solve the crisis.
This is not a solid reason to abscond.
While dialogue is required, there is also a moment for standing with what one believes.
Africa should be at the forefront of condemning invasions given its colonisation history.
Likewise, the weak state of African countries means they are more vulnerable to invasion compared to any other European country.
By absconding, Africa subjugated its rights and reflected on what it truly is, a taker and not a giver in global matters.
- Gwenzi is a financial analyst and MD of Equity Axis, a financial media firm offering business intelligence, economic and equity research. — email@example.com