Recent developments in Ukraine, particularly the March 16, 2014 referendum in Crimea where a majority of its citizen voted to break away from Ukraine and joined/rejoined Russia, have captured the world’s attention, heighten tensions between the West and Russian reminiscent of the Cold War, and led to the adoption of several measures by key stakeholders/players in these developments that could have far reaching impact for global order and stability.
The West, led by the US and the EU, has rejected the Crimean referendum and its outcome, which it regards as illegal, and has adopted a series of sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian/Crimean citizens deemed to have played a leading role in the prevailing crisis. These measures include the expulsion of Russia from the Group of Eight Nations (G 8) - an association of the world’s leading and influential nations other than China, now the G 7. There was also a Western led UN Security Council against the referendum which was vetoed by Russia with China abstaining.
Russia on the other has supported developments in Crimea and acceded to the request for the region to be part of Russia following the referendum. Russia has also threatened to adopt economic sanctions against selected US and EU citizens deemed to have influenced Western sanctions against its own citizens.
Other than the support of Nigeria and Rwanda for the US backed UN Security Council Resolution on Ukraine/Crimea, which Russia vetoed, African countries and the AU have kept out of the ensuing dispute. This past Thursday (March 27, 2014), the UN General Assembly, acting on the basis of preserving “unity and territorial integrity of all UN Member States,” adopted a resolution declaring the Crimean referendum to secede from Ukraine invalid under international law, and called on all UN states and UN organizations not to recognize any changes in the territory of Ukraine. One hundred states supported the resolution, whilst 11 opposed it and 58 abstained. Nigeria was one of the few African countries that supported the resolution while many others abstained.
The AU has not issued a single statement in support of any side and South Africa issued a statement calling for a peaceful resolution on this matter. Notwithstanding the general silence and non-involvement of the majority of African states and the AU in the Ukraine/Crimean dispute, the developments in the Ukraine and the responses of both the West and Russia have many implications for Africa in generally and for many African countries in particular. The program was broadcast on Sat March 29, 2014 on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC.
- Brigid Otieno from Kenya, a student pursuing a master’s degree in U.S. Foreign Policy and Diplomacy at the American University’s School of International Service in Washington D.C.
- Prudence Ukwishatse, from Rwanda originally, works at the Institute of International Education in Washington DC and also co-chairs the Africa Discussion group with the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy Association in Washington D.C.
- Wuyi Jacobs
- Tseliso Thipanyane