Moscow expects that most of Africa’s 54 countries will “ignore threats and blackmail from the West” and attend the long-delayed second Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg in June, Russian Ambassador at Large Oleg Ozerov told an international forum on March 14, Tass reports.
“We certainly expect the participation of most African states in the summit,” said Ozerov, who heads the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, speaking at the forum (held under the theme “Russia-Africa: Co-operation as a Path to Sustainable Development”).
“We are convinced that most leaders of the states will ignore those open threats and outright blackmail from Western states, which literally demand that African states stop co-operating with Russia.”
“We are sure that no one will be scared, since there is a huge request for co-operation from both sides – from the Russian side and from the African one,” Ozerov added. “We have mutual interests that we can unite now.”
Senegal’s ambassador to Moscow, Jean-Baptiste Thiattie Tine, is amongst those to have already confirmed his attendance. He made the announcement to the media on March 14, stating that his country’s presence at the summit would be significant.
The second summit and economic forum is scheduled to take place from July 26 to 29 in St. Petersburg.
Previously the second summit was scheduled for October-November 2022 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as Moscow steps up its campaign to move closer to the African countries and pivot away from the West due to the latter’s heavy sanctions imposed after the start of the war in Ukraine.
The Russia-Africa Summit has been an important platform for promoting Russian interests on the continent and leaders from 48 of Africa’s 54 countries attended the first summit held in the Russian resort city of Sochi in October 2019. It was co-chaired by the presidents of Russia and Egypt, Vladimir Putin and Abdul Fattah el-Sisi. Egypt is a key Russian partner in North Africa, which before the war imported 80% of its grain from Russia and Ukraine.
The participants of the second Russia-Africa summit plan to adopt a political declaration and a joint action plan, Ozerov said.
“We’ve already discussed a political declaration; we also intend to discuss its content with all African countries. This will be our joint document that reflects our common interests,” he said at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs’ meeting as cited by Tass.
“And we are sure that we will be able to agree on it. The second document will be our joint action plan. We’ve already prepared and co-ordinated with the African Union a joint action plan; it is ready for signing.”
Ozerov said the summit would address the issue of the development of relations between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and regional African organisations.
“We’ve ensured our sovereignty and we are ready to help others precisely to move to a new model of international relations, to equal co-operation in a multipolar world. I think our interests coincide with those of the African states, and we will continue to work together to achieve concrete results,” the ambassador added.
The first summit was themed “For Peace, Security and Development.” A second summit was planned in 2020, but was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The upcoming summit aims to strengthen trade and economic ties between Russia and African nations, as well as to discuss other issues of mutual interest.
The US held its first Africa event since the Obama administration in December; 49 of the 54 heads of African states were in attendance. A similar number of heads of state are expected to attend the Russian summit.
Western and Russian diplomats have been travelling the world recently trying to shore up support and Africa has been a key region of interest as countries on the Continent are divided between supporting Russia or the West.
Senegal has moved closer to Moscow in the last year and has become a major importer of Russian refined products. President Macky Sall met Putin in Sochi in June 2022 as the current head of the African Union. The leaders talked about an impending food crisis due to the war in Ukraine and securing grain imports for African Union members.