• Russia strengthening African relations
  • US trying to muscle out Russia from the region
  • Moscow visits Zimbabwe and Malawi

Harare - The Russian government has donated 20,000 tons of fertilizer to Malawi as part of its efforts to garner diplomatic support from various African nations.

Malawi voted to censure Russia at the United Nations last year for its invasion of Ukraine. Zimbabwe was one of more than 15 other African nations who abstain from the voting.

Russia is progressively being ostracized by the international world over its invasion of Ukraine. In this context, Russia is making huge strides in its new scramble for Africa and this week Moscow sent a business team to Zimbabwe led by Yarin Vyacheslav, the Russian Federation's Minister of International Economic Affairs for the Sverdlovsk Region.

Igor Zelenkin, Russia's deputy minister of Industry and Commerce for the Sverdlovsk Region, led the three-day expedition. Sekai Nzenza, the minister of industry and commerce, and other business leaders met with Vyacheslav during his visit to examine potential areas of economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and the Sverdlovsk Region of Russia, according to the government.

The visit by the Russian delegation signified the world's geo-political rivalry in which super powers are scrambling for Africa.

In January, Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov visited South Africa to meet his counterpart Naledi Pandor, five months after his American opposite number Anthony Blinken was in Pretoria.

While Lavrov was in South Africa asserting Russia's influence in Africa, US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield travelled to Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya this week to advance mutual priorities following December's US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was also in Harare recently where pursued deals in lithium.

Lukashenko and Russian leader Vladimir Putin are allies. They are both under sanctions from the European Union and United States over the war in Ukraine in which they are aiding each other.

The Russian delegation's visit to Harare has heightened the geopolitical rivalry and turf wars between Washington and Moscow in southern Africa and across the continent.

Other global powers and small states are also involved in the new scramble for Africa.

The US has been trying to muscle out Russia from the region to the extent of coming up with a law that will oblige Washington to punish African governments that abet Russian "malign" activities on the continent.

The Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Bill passed in the US House of Representatives on 27 April 2022 by a huge bipartisan 419-9 majority and was sure to be passed by Senate to become law. The US has however put it on ice.

If implemented, it would direct the US secretary of State "to develop and submit to Congress a strategy and implementation plan outlining United States efforts to counter the malign influence and activities of the Russian Federation and its proxies in Africa".

The bill broadly defines such malign activities as those that "undermine United States objectives and interests". Russia has deep historical roots in the region, only surpassed by former colonial powers in Africa.

Russian ambassador to Zimbabwe went on to highlight that the Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera to this years’s Russia-Africa Humanitarian forum slated to take place in July.

Russia will give 260,000 tons of fertilizer to countries in the continent, Russian Ambassador to Malawi Nikolai Krasilnikov said at a handover ceremony Monday at the capital, Lilongwe.

He said he hopes African leaders will press for the abolition of international sanctions against Russia when they attend the second Russia-Africa summit to be held in St. Petersburg at the end of July.

The Russian manufacturer Uralchem-Ukalkali had produced the fertilizer and made the gift to Malawi, said Dmitry Shornikov, head of the firm's southern Africa branch, who also attended the handover.

The fertilizer should help Malawi achieve its goals of substantially boosting its agricultural production and helping families grow more healthy and nutritious food, said Shornikov.

Malawi's Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said the fertilizer will reach 400,000 farming households and boost their agricultural production.

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