Russia Needs Friends. Africa, Needing Food, Isn’t Turning Its Back.

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Paul Stronski, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has studied Russia’s relations with Africa, said the United States and Europe liked to think that Russia has been isolated since it invaded Ukraine.

“Macky Sall’s visit on behalf of the African Union, the votes at the U.N., show that Russia might be isolated from America, Europe, Taiwan and Japan, but necessarily not from the rest of the world,” he said.

The African Union has vowed to remain neutral position in the conflict, and Mr. Sall has tried to cast himself as a potential mediator. Yet in practice, some analysts say, the African Union has showed deference to Russia.

That was evident when, after his talks with Mr. Putin, Mr. Sall was scheduled to fly back to Africa on Friday without meeting with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

In addition, Mr. Zelensky has asked for months to address the African Union, and even though Mr. Sall said this week that the Ukrainian leader could soon address the organization in a videoconference, no date has been announced.

Joseph Siegle, the director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, an arm of the Pentagon’s National Defense University, noted that Mr. Putin has tried to portray his invasion of Ukraine as an ideological battle against the West. That message has resonated across Africa, he said.

Mr. Putin has even used the looming grain shortage to cast the United States and its allies in bad light, he said. “He is twisting the narrative to suggest that the sanctions are causing the pain and price inflation for food across the globe, rather than acknowledging that the entire food crisis related to the conflict is his making,” Mr. Siegle said.

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