On October 23 and 24, the Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hosting about 50 African Heads of States who will be attending the Russia-Africa Summit (The Sochi Summit). This summit, according to Putin, will be an opportunity for Russia to offer help to African countries without political conditions unlike the ‘exploitative West’.

“Russia, together with the international community, renders comprehensive assistance to Africa, inter alia, by way of reducing the debt burden of its states. With a number of countries, we are carrying out debt-for-development swap programmes… When doing so, we do not make our support and joint development projects which we offer contingent upon the fulfilment of political or any other preconditions or so-called ‘exclusive’, but in fact enslaving trade and economic preferences; we do not impose our views, respecting the principle of African solutions to African problems proposed by the Africans themselves,” Putin said in an interview with TASS, the largest Russian news agency.

“We see how an array of Western countries are resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments. They are using such methods to try to return lost influence and dominance in their former colonies in a new guise and rushing to pump out maximum profits and to exploit the continent,” Putin added.

Over the years, the Chinese government has been known to invest in Africa by building shiny gifts for African countries as a means of solidifying and strengthening China’s political and diplomatic relationships in Africa. This action has been criticised as an effort to colonise Africa. Currently, China is the leading infrastructure finance provider on the continent to the annoyance of the United States.

China is not the only country searching for a chunk of Africa’s pie; Japan, United States, France and even Russia.

In 2018, Russia sought to renew its ties with Africa after over 10 years hiatus. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov embarked on a five-nation (Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia) Africa tour emphasizing the role of international support on the continent and the need for African solutions. After which Putin announced that Russia would write off more than $20 billion in debt contracted by African nations to help the continent overcome poverty, showing Russia’s commitments to strengthening its African ties.

Putin has repeatedly expressed that Africa is increasingly becoming a continent of opportunity, however, there are always hidden political conditions that may not be glaring. President Putin desires to restore Russia to its previous great power status and has begun looking to Africa.

Russia is the second-largest exporter of arms globally Previous African-Russian partnerships have been on arms sales. There have been documentations of such deals between Russia and at least 30 African nations, data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed. Military ties are closely linked to bilateral military agreements as well as providing boots on the ground in United Nations peacekeeping operations and this is enough to get Russia anything it wants from Africa.

Recently, Russia’s partnership has gone beyond arms to deals, extending to mineral extraction and providing nuclear power. Though experts say the consequences of Russia’s re-emergence and involvement on the continent are not immediately clear, they, however, note that the implications could be profound, especially with new undefined opportunities to partner with China and United States.


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