It will reverberate across Africa’s economies and political systems. Some countries will face tricky diplomatic trade-offs, some will strive to stay neutral while energy and mineral exporters could cash on a price boom.
The long brewing crisis in Ukraine marks another triumph of geopolitics over globalisation. It is both a replay of a 19th century theme and a precursor to a multi-polar world order.
The playbook runs like this: a strong and resource-rich state, nursing historic grievances against western Europe and the US, wants to regain its great power status. It jealously guards its control over its land and maritime borders, arguing these are crucial to its security. It regards its “near abroad” as its sphere of influence.
On the main stage, it applies to Russia and China but in very different ways. China has regained its great power status. It is the second biggest economy in the world, by some measures the biggest. But it seeks the diplomatic and geopolitical heft to counter US hegemony in the world system.
Russia, is the eleventh biggest economy, behind Italy and South Korea. But it is the third biggest oil producer in the world and has one of the most sophisticated high-tech military industrial complexes.
Gains and losses for Africa in the geopolitical turmoil
Some governments see a return to the Cold War when canny African diplomats could play off Washington against Moscow.