During the Russia-Africa summit held in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his country’s commitment to strengthening ties with Africa. The summit aimed to reinforce Moscow’s support in Africa despite facing international isolation due to its actions in Ukraine.
Putin announced various initiatives, signaling Russia’s growing interest in the African continent. He offered debt write-offs and free grain to six African nations, seeking to avert a global food crisis following Russia’s withdrawal from an agreement that allowed Ukraine to export its agricultural products.
One of the main themes discussed at the summit was the joint determination to combat “neocolonialism” and illegitimate sanctions. Participants, including 17 heads of state from 49 countries, signed a joint declaration calling for a more just and balanced multipolar world order while opposing any form of international confrontation in Africa.
Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem, reporting from the summit, described this as a “new initiative towards Africa,” emphasizing Russia’s ambitious plans to gain allies on the continent. Putin aims to revive Soviet-era investments in Africa and increase Russia’s presence by building plants, factories, and enhancing diplomatic missions.
Despite Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal, Putin assured African leaders of continued grain supplies, blaming the West for higher food prices and inflation. He emphasized Africa’s growing political and economic significance, urging the world to recognize this reality.
For several years, Russia has engaged in diplomatic and economic endeavors in Africa, offering security services like the Wagner mercenary army to African governments. However, recent developments have forced Russia to seek alternatives to European partnerships.
African leaders used the summit as an opportunity to press Putin on supporting their peace plan to end the Ukraine conflict. While not directly criticizing Russia, they expressed concern over rising food prices and urged for a resolution to the conflict.
Despite the challenges, Putin reiterated Russia’s commitment to supplying grain to African nations both on a contractual basis and free of charge. The summit concluded with agreements to enhance cooperation in aid, energy, and trade, with a focus on using national currencies for commercial transactions.
Moreover, Putin pledged to eliminate Africa’s debts, and African leaders expressed gratitude for Russia’s historical support during their liberation struggles. The final declaration included Russia’s promise to help seek compensation for the damages caused by colonial rule and the restoration of plundered cultural treasures.
Overall, the summit demonstrated Russia’s efforts to forge stronger ties with Africa and pursue mutually beneficial partnerships in various sectors.