The second Russia-Africa summit held on July 27–28 in St. Petersburg, despite unprecedented pressure from the West, showed that the attempt to block Russia failed and became a major geopolitical breakthrough. The final declaration adopted there covered almost all areas of cooperation.
Before the start of the summit, the West tried to play a marked card — to use the food issue to quarrel Russia with Africa and reduce the number of delegations that agreed to come, lowering the prestige of the meeting.
“The summit comes amid escalating tensions in the Black Sea over Mr. Putin’s recent decision to pull out of a deal allowing Ukraine to supply grain to world markets,” The New York Times said. — “Russia’s withdrawal has caused food prices to soar, adding to the suffering of the world’s poorest countries, including some of those attending the Russia-Africa summit.”
When this card was dealt, the next one came into play: the status of African representatives attending the forum. “Only sixteen African heads of state are expected to attend,” The Washington Post quipped. — “That’s less than half of the forty-three people attending the first Russia-Africa summit in 2019.”
But the number of participating countries was actually 49, and more than half of them were represented by state and government leaders.
Further, Westerners felt almost childish joy when a coup occurred in Niger on the day the summit started. But even this did not affect the work of the summit. After all, it is obvious to everyone that many African countries, only recently freed from colonial oppression, do not have centuries-old state foundations. In general, by and large, the situation in Niger should be of most concern to the French, because this country produces up to 5% of the world’s uranium, the most important raw material for nuclear energy, and all exports go to France.
It is difficult to mention absolutely everything that was agreed upon at the summit, as a huge number of important issues were discussed during two days and a plan of interaction until 2026 was outlined.
We will list only a part of it so that the scale of the issue is clear: they agreed to seek compensation for the damage caused by colonial policies, because while the victims of the Holocaust have been compensated, Africans, whose number of victims exceeds tens of millions, if not more, have received nothing. Promote the return of cultural property, for it is no secret that museums and repositories in Europe are full of museum treasures stolen and exported as a result of colonial wars of plunder.
They agreed to cooperate in the UN Security Council on easing and lifting sanctions against African states — no one understands what it is like to be under sanctions as well as Russia does; to promote the accession of African countries to the G20; to promote the deepening of the BRICS-Africa partnership; to counter attempts to use international legal instruments in the field of arms control for political purposes; to combat the spread of radical ideas among young people; to oppose Afrophobia and Russophobia; to make joint efforts to ensure the provision of food and energy to the countries of the region; introduce African and Russian languages into school programs. And this is only a small part of what was agreed upon at the summit.
In fact, this is a new era in the development of relations between Russia and Africa. It has never happened before that Eurasia has established such close contacts with the Black Continent. No matter how loud it sounds, the St. Petersburg summit can safely be called Russia’s breakthrough.
It is clear that special attention was paid to the food issue. After Russia withdrew from the grain deal because it had lost all sense and the poorest African countries received a mere pittance of food, the West, as mentioned above, tried to use this fact to put pressure on Africa, saying that now there will be no grain and your countries are threatened with famine because of the Russians. But this argument did not pass, if only because the amount of supplies for half of 2023 is almost equal to the level of the whole 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in order to remove political speculation on this issue, immediately stated that the Russian Federation will continue to supply grain to African countries both on a commercial basis and free of charge.
His words were confirmed by the Chairman of the African Union, Azali Assoumani, who emphasized that the Russian leader is ready to help resolve the situation with grain.
At the summit, it was announced that six nations — Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Zimbabwe — would each receive 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain. At no cost. Moreover, Russia has already sent 10 million tons to Africa since the beginning of 2023. These figures are especially eloquent against the background of the fact that under the grain deal, 70% of Ukrainian wheat went to European countries, while only 3% went to African countries.
Furthermore, in modern conditions, many countries realize that they cannot wait indefinitely for gratuitous aid from Russia. For example, the Minister of Commerce of Zambia said that “if Russia gives us grain free of charge, we will be very grateful. But the question is how long it will take. What we would like more from you is to know how to grow our own grain so that we can provide it to others.” He emphasized that Zambia has human capital and natural resources, while Moscow has knowledge and technology. So this is a mutually beneficial version of new cooperation, when there is a mutual exchange.
Another important issue discussed at the summit was the peace initiatives of Africans regarding the Ukrainian crisis. Here again, Moscow gave the representatives of the Black Continent, to whose opinion on issues of world politics the Western countries did not listen much, an opportunity to feel themselves equal to the world powers.
“Take, for example, the initiative of a number of African states on how to solve the Ukrainian crisis. This is an acute problem, we do not shy away from considering it. This in itself speaks volumes. After all, before, any mediation missions were monopolized exclusively by countries with so-called developed democracies. Not anymore. And now Africa is ready to help in solving problems that seem to be outside the zone of its primary interests. We respect your initiatives and are carefully considering them,” Vladimir Putin said.
Moscow’s respectful attitude, which has listened carefully to African opinions, has greatly raised the Kremlin’s prestige among African politicians.
It is a very important point that Russia is returning to Africa with a big humanitarian mission. The President announced a 1.2 billion roubles program of assistance to African countries in the field of health care. A network of Russian-language education centers will be created, and branches of educational organizations from the Russian Federation will also be opened. In addition, the parties intend to work on the introduction of Russian and African languages as foreign languages in general educational organizations. That is, Russia is returning to Africa, taking into account the Soviet experience.
Russia will help Africans solve an important problem for them — energy development: Rosatom has signed a roadmap with Ethiopia to develop cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy, and with Zimbabwe an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the use of nuclear energy. Rosatom representatives are already cooperating with two dozen African states, including Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and others in the construction of nuclear power plants, the establishment of nuclear science and technology centers, and the development of uranium deposits. In Egypt, the state corporation is building Africa’s first nuclear power plant, El Dabaa.
And then, of course, the question arises whether aid to Africa will not go the way it did during the Soviet era, when loans, military equipment, factories and power plants were distributed, and then all this was written off as a gift to the peoples “fighting colonial oppression”? After all, only old Soviet debts were written off for 23 billion dollars. If we take all debts to the USSR and the Russian Federation, more than 90% have been settled. There are still controversial things that are being negotiated, as a result of which positions in Africa, lost after the collapse of the USSR, are being restored.
Won’t it turn out that after a while the debt will have to be forgiven again? It seems not. Over the years, the ideological component that dominated Russia, when Russia helped only because the country declared that it would build socialism, has disappeared. Now both Russia and the Africans are looking for mutually beneficial cooperation