Zelenskyy says he plans to boost Ukraine’s footprint in Africa

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country plans to boost its footprint in Africa next year by opening ten new embassies and strengthening trade ties with the continent.

Ukraine has reportedly been trying to rally African countries to its cause, as it fights off Russia’s full-scale invasion.

This is in part by promoting a humanitarian grain initiative to help alleviate hunger in highly vulnerable countries.

Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian agricultural exports through the Black Sea had sparked global shortages earlier this year, before a UN-brokered deal partially eased it in July.

He says he would like Ukraine to eventually be represented in 30 countries, without specifying which countries the new embassies or trade offices would be located.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy was en route to the United States on Wednesday to meet President Joe Biden, address Congress and seek “weapons, weapons and more weapons” in his first overseas trip 300 days since Russia invaded his country.

Zelenskyy said the visit was aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s “resilience and defence capabilities” amid repeated Russian attacks on energy and water supplies in the dead of winter.

Air-raid sirens blared across Ukraine on Wednesday, officials said, but there was no immediate word of a new wave of attacks.