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 How political reality of «russia-Africa» form refuted putin’s promises

 How political reality of «russia-Africa» form refuted putin’s promises

Ten days after russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, another two-day russia-Africa summit is taking place in st. petersburg. The event was widely popularized by russian propaganda: it was supposed to define a strategy for further mutual cooperation between the kremlin and African leaders and prove to the international community that russia’s position in African markets continues to strengthen. But something went wrong. It was a blow to the organizers of the summit that only 17 African heads of state attended the forum (for comparison, during the previous summit in 2019 in sochi, none of the 43 countries declined the invitation). And it was a personal humiliation for putin that instead of leaders, the delegations of 10 African countries were headed by prime ministers, deputy prime ministers and ministers, and 5 were represented by ambassadors (45 countries sent delegations headed by presidents and prime ministers to participate in the first summit). To gain the loyalty of certain African leaders, putin took a very unpopular step. Against the backdrop of a significant drop in the living standards of most russians and the economic decline of recent years, russia wrote off Somalia’s debts totaling more than $690 million, which angered the russian domestic audience.

Why did most African leaders refuse to participate in the summit?

First, russia’s blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports has effectively destroyed the logistics of food supplies to the poorest countries on the African continent and caused grain prices to rise. According to British intelligence, the grain deal thwarted by the kremlin allowed for the export of about 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain to Africa, which would have provided the necessary food for Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan, among others. According to the UK Ministry of Defense, the termination of direct supplies of Ukrainian grain will increase food insecurity in Africa for at least the next two years.

Secondly, African leaders no longer consider russia a reliable partner and do not believe putin’s accusations that the West failed in the grain deal and that the kremlin is able to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa. After all, putin’s promises to Africans at the previous summit to double trade to $40 billion have not been fulfilled. In fact, the volume of trade did not increase, but decreased to $18 billion. In addition, russia accounts for only 1% of foreign investment in Africa. Moreover, when putin offered six African countries (Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Zimbabwe) 25,000 to 50,000 tons of russian grain free of charge, the head of Zimbabwe refused and said that his country did not need additional grain from russia.

Thirdly, African leaders are increasingly afraid of the use of force to increase their loyalty to the kremlin. It is no wonder that at putin’s summit, prigozhin suddenly “resurfaced”, who is gradually losing his status as a “traitor” in russia, and his PMC “wagner” continues to engage in security “business” in at least five African countries. And another manifestation of the kremlin’s practice of removing rebellious African dictators was the military coup in Niger, which strangely coincided with the refusal of its pro-Western President M. Bazoum to participate in the summit. As you know, the Republic of Niger is the main ally of Western countries in the region and a key partner of the European Union in the fight against illegal migration from Africa. Although the involvement of the wagnerites in the coup has not been proven, their previous “activities” give reason to believe so. It’s no secret that the kremlin has long used PMC “wagner” to overthrow unwanted regimes in Africa and plunder its resources. This happened in 2017 in Sudan and in 2018 in the Central African Republic. According to Western sources, a limited presence of mercenaries was noted in the following countries: Cameroon, Sudan, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Libya, Mali, and Mozambique. According to analysts, the coup will create an opportunity for russia to expand its influence in Niger and the region as a whole.

So, by organizing the summit, the kremlin decided to prove to the African continent its past power, and to the West that the aggression against Ukraine has not turned russia into a rogue state. However, the attempt to gather representatives of African countries that suffered from russia’s grain blackmail for the sake of propaganda failed. Most African leaders ignored the invitation, demonstrating their disagreement with russia’s foreign policy strategy. African countries are demanding that russia return to the grain deal, and in case of refusal, they are threatening the kremlin with a break in relations. Therefore, the most effective way to finally free Africa from russian dictation is to develop the logistics of grain supplies without the participation of russia.

  • 28 July, 2023

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