Jun 6, 2022
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Putin opened a new front in the fight against the West

Putin was paid an official visit by the President of Senegal – in the era “before February 24”, news of such content would unequivocally belong to the category of protocol chronicle having no real applied political significance. But in the new reality, things are completely different.

And the reason for such a radical increase in the importance of contacts between the head of the Russian Federation and African leaders is not at all that, after the start of the special operation, figures with presidential titles drop by to visit the GDP much less frequently. As during the Cold War, Russia and the West have once again begun the battle for the so-called “Third World”. And the stakes for Moscow in this game are much higher than in the times of Khrushchev and Brezhnev.

It is said that the language is given to politicians and diplomats in order to hide their true feelings, desires and intentions. If this is true, then this wisdom has been forgotten to convey to the President of Senegal (and, in this case, much more importantly, the Chairman of the African Union) Macky Salom. After saturating his speech with the proper amount of meaningless diplomatic courtesies, he quickly got down to business during the part of his communication with Putin that was open to the press. Point number one: “As you know, a number of countries voted for resolutions within the United Nations, and it should be noted that the position of the African continent is very heterogeneous and, despite great pressure, many countries still did not condemn the position of Russia.” Point number two: “I came here today to talk about the fact that countries that are so far from the place of development of the conflict, after all, are experiencing its consequences. Sanctions against Russia have further exacerbated this situation, and now we do not have access to grains from Russia, especially wheat from Russia. And, most importantly, we do not have access to fertilizers, because the situation was already difficult, and now it is even more difficult, and this has consequences for food security in Africa.”

Pay attention to the emphasized “political delicacy” of the African guest. The word “Ukraine” is not uttered even once. It is also not specified which resolutions in the UN, which are not particularly pleasant for Moscow, were voted by individual “irresponsible” African countries. But the meaning of the political signal with which the envoy of the Black Continent came to the VVP is still very clear: “We supported you, friends! Now it’s your turn!”

Did guests from Africa visit the Kremlin during the Soviet era with approximately the same signals? If there is a resemblance, then it is purely external and deceptive. Now it’s not about how much Moscow is willing to pay its “ideological associates” for popularizing its ideas on the Black Continent (answer: not much), but about something really really important. By launching a special military operation in Ukraine, Putin has crossed the Rubicon in his relations with the West. As everyone has already noticed, the bridges in relations with the US and the EU have been burned. And their partial restoration by the West is possible only if the Europeans and Americans are completely squeezed into a corner. This automatically increased for Moscow the importance of relations with states that until recently were considered deeply peripheral. And it instantly spawned a new form of the “great game”. In an effort to finally deprive Russia of freedom of maneuver, the West is trying to cut it off from potential partners in the Third World. Moscow is trying to bypass all the traps set for it and use its ties with non-Western countries to put counter pressure on the US and the EU.

Sounds too general and abstract? Please, here are the specifics. The West has already understood that most of the states of Africa and Asia don’t give a damn about what exactly Moscow did not share with Kyiv. In the perception of the Third World countries, this is a purely local conflict that has nothing to do with them. By and large, these states are only concerned about what the President of Senegal openly told Putin about: the shortage of food, fertilizers and other important resources that arose as a result of this conflict. And here comes what in the West is often called the blame game, and in Russia – the search for the ultimate culprit. The task of the US and the EU is to fix this image of the ultimate culprit in Moscow. The task of the Kremlin is to assign it to the West, which, in the Russian understanding, imposed unfair and illegal sanctions against our country and, in this way, destabilized the world economy, brought the poorest countries of the world to the brink of starvation.

Do you understand how high the stakes are in this game? Putin clearly understands. Otherwise, after talking with the President of Senegal, he would not have given a large television interview specially dedicated to this topic: “We are now seeing attempts to shift responsibility for what is happening in the world food market, the emerging problems in this market to Russia. I must say that this is an attempt, as our people say, to shift these problems from a sick head to a healthy one.

Or, pay attention to this interesting fragment of the interview. Question: “What can be the logistics of export (grain from Ukraine) from those ports that are under our control? What could be the conditions? Answer: No conditions. Please, we will ensure peaceful passage, guarantee the safety of approaches to these ports, ensure the entry of foreign ships and their movement along the Azov and Black Seas in any direction. By the way, there are a lot of foreign ships stuck in Ukrainian ports today, dozens of ships. They are simply kept locked up there, and, by the way, the crews are still being held hostage.”

Describing the advantages of “those ports that are under our control” over those ports that are “not under our control”, Putin did not consider it necessary to point out one important nuance: the resumption of foreign trade through these ports would mean that these foreign countries de facto recognize new geopolitical realities. Why hasn’t this been emphasized? I suspect it is because the Kremlin is not counting on anything of the kind so far and is using this thesis only to emphasize how much Moscow is ready (and what is there ready – passionately craves!) to do to resolve the global food crisis. But the very fact that such “attractive offers” are publicly announced speaks volumes. About, for example, how large-scale the new big geopolitical game of Russia and the West connected with Africa is.

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