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Blinken visits Africa as analysts worry of Cold War posturing

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Africa on Sunday just weeks after his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov toured the continent where he placed blame for grain shortages tied to the war in Ukraine on the West. Photo courtesy Antony Blinken/Twitter
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Africa on Sunday just weeks after his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov toured the continent where he placed blame for grain shortages tied to the war in Ukraine on the West. Photo courtesy Antony Blinken/Twitter

Aug. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Africa on Sunday just weeks after his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov toured the continent where he placed blame for grain shortages tied to the war in Ukraine on the West.

Blinken arrived in South Africa after meetings in the Philippines and Cambodia last week where Lavrov also traveled after his tour of Africa to participate in a conference between Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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Lavrov said Russia hoped to expand economic and military cooperation with Cambodia during his visit to the country while Blinken addressed food shortages.

Analysts with the Institute for Security Studies, a South Africa-based research organization and think tank focused on security in Africa, said in an article after Lavrov's visit that the zigzagging diplomatic trips are "taking the world back to Cold War postures."

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"Indeed, Lavrov was soon engaged in a virtual propaganda war with French President Emmanuel Macron, who was also on an African safari -- perhaps not coincidentally ­-- visiting Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau," Peter Fabricius wrote for ISS Africa on July 29.

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Fabricius said that Lavrov's trip was "clearly" designed to "sell Russia's narrative that its Ukraine war was about countering Western global hegemony."

Scholars have long said that the effects of the Cold War wreaked havoc on African nations that hindered their economic and political development.

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However, the continent has been less critical of Russia than other regions with just 25 of 54 states abstaining or not voting to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine during a United Nations General Assembly resolution in March.

After touching down Sunday, Blinken visited the Hector Pieterson Museum to remember the "bravery of the youth" that were killed while exercising their right to protest apartheid and segregation.

"Today in South Africa and in the coming days from the region, I will reiterate to our African partners that America remains determined to work with countries of the continent to confront the shared challenges we face, including the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism," Blinken said.

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"As we remember the lives taken from us nearly a quarter century ago, we will continue to demonstrate that those who seek to stand in the way of a better future for our countries will never be able to succeed."

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