Blinken To Visit Africa As Russia Intensifies Influence

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel next month to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, the Department of State announced on Friday, as Washington ramps up diplomacy in Africa to counter a Russian charm offensive.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, will also go in August to Ghana and Uganda and the US aid chief, Samantha Power, recently completed a trip to longtime Washington ally Kenya, as well as Somalia, where she highlighted the rise in malnutrition aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The diplomacy came after Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov undertook his own extensive tour of Africa, where he has sought to cast spiraling global food prices as a consequence of Western sanctions – an idea rejected by Washington, which points to Moscow’s blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Blinken will send a message that “African countries are geostrategic players and critical partners on the most pressing issues of our day, from promoting an open and stable international system, to tackling the effects of climate change, food insecurity and global pandemics to shaping our technological and economic futures,” a Department of State statement said.

South Africa, a leader in the developing world, has emerged as a key diplomatic battleground as it has remained studiously neutral on the Ukraine war, refusing to join Western calls to condemn Moscow, which still enjoys affection for the Soviet Union’s historical opposition to apartheid.

Blinken will visit Johannesburg and the executive capital, Pretoria, from August 7-9. He will then head to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa in a bid to show support for sub-Saharan Africa’s vastest country as it tries to turn the page on decades of conflict.