Despite the ongoing war with Ukraine, Russia continues its diplomatic push to increase her influence in Africa by hosting the second Russia-Africa summit last week in St Petersburg, where Putin told leaders and officials from most African countries he is making every effort to avert a global food crisis as concerns grew among his guest over Russia’s withdrawal from the grain shipment deal that has led to price spikes.
“Our country will continue supporting needy states and regions, in particular, with its humanitarian deliveries. We seek to actively participate in building a fairer system of distribution of resources. We are taking maximum efforts to avert a global food crisis,” Putin said. “I have already said that our country can replace Ukrainian grain, both on a commercial basis and as grant aid to the neediest African countries, more so since we expect another record harvest this year,” he said.
Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said that while only 17 heads of state were at the summit, 32 other African countries were represented by senior officials or ambassadors. The Kremlin said crude Western pressure to discourage African nations from taking part caused the number of leaders taking part to shrink. In 2019, 43 heads of state attended.
Security was another issue on the agenda, the fate of the Wagner mercenary group and his continued operation in conflicts in the continent particularly after last month’s mutiny attempt on Moscow. Russian officials and Prigozhin have said the company would continue working in Africa.
A peace proposal for Ukraine that African leaders have tried to pursue was set to be discussed as well.
Many African leaders have tried to strike a delicate balance to maintain their relationships with either the West or Russia.