Paul Stronsky, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has studied Russia’s relations with Africa, said the United States and Europe like to think Russia has been isolated since it invaded Ukraine.
“Maki Sall’s visit on behalf of the African Union, the vote at the UN shows that Russia can be isolated from America, Europe, Taiwan and Japan, but certainly not from the rest of the world,” he said.
The African Union has pledged to remain neutral in the conflict, and Mr. Sall has attempted to present himself as a potential mediator. In practice, however, according to some analysts, the African Union showed respect for Russia.
This was evident when, after talks with Mr Putin, Mr Sall was scheduled to fly back to Africa on Friday without meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In addition, Mr. Zelensky has asked to speak to the African Union for several months, and although Mr. Sall said this week that the Ukrainian leader could soon address the organization via videoconference, no date has been announced.
Joseph Sigle, director of research at the African Center for Strategic Studies, a division of the Pentagon’s National Defense University, said Mr. Putin tried to frame his invasion of Ukraine as an ideological battle against the West. According to him, this message resonated in Africa.
Mr. Putin even used the looming grain shortage to make the United States and its allies look bad, he said. “He distorts the narrative to suggest that sanctions are causing pain and rising food prices around the world, instead of admitting that the entire conflict-related food crisis is his doing,” Mr. Sigle said.