The recent Russia-Africa summit can be summed up as a ‘promise festival’ as the host, President Vladimir Putin made a lot of pledges to the African leaders. Meanwhile, more deeds and fewer declarations of intent will do the African continent a whole lot of good.
The number of African leader participants, a far lesser number than previous summit, sends a resounding message to the Russian federation. However, as always, the Kremlin chose to ignore the message, and blamed “Western pressure” for discouraging African nations from attending the event.
What’s the message? The message is that African countries, bearing the brunt of Russia’s war in Ukraine, are concerned as the war seems not to near its end, and won’t be party to meetings that will not yield tangible results.
This is because, at the first Russia-Africa Summit in 2019, Putin vowed to double Russia’s trade with the African continent within five years. Instead, it has stuck at around $18 billion a year.
Also, Russia has literally placed a noose around the necks of African countries, by its suspension of the Black Sea Deal. The metaphorical noose is tightening every passing day as Russia’s decision will definitely increase food inflation and hunger in Africa.
What’s more, Russia accounts for just 1 percent of foreign direct investment into Africa. Its trade with Africa accounts for only 5 percent of the European Union’s total trade with Africa. While Russia’s “no limits” ally, China, is currently Africa’s largest trade partner.
As such, one cannot agree less with AU Commission head, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who stated at the summit that African nations need more concrete results from such meetings.
“The trade balance between Russia and Africa, very unbalanced in favor of the first party, must be improved,” Mahamat added. Mahamat’s poignant statement reveals the fact that Africa is very much aware that Russia is only seeking for its gain and does not give a hoot even if it comes at the peril of others.
Without providing details, Putin promised at the summit that his country will be ready to start supplying 25,000-50,000 tonnes of grain for free to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea, within three to four months.
Mind you, these are only six out of 54 African countries. How will the others cope? How long does Russia intend to continue with this “kind gesture”?
Several countries and groups have imposed comprehensive sanctions on Russian banks, oil refineries and military exports.
Other sanctions target future energy revenues and military-industrial supply chains, in addition to architecture, manufacturing and construction. These sanctions are sure to impact Rusia’s economy.
On the issue of maintaining peace, Putin stressed on Friday, July 28, 2023, that Moscow will closely analyze the African peace initiative on Ukraine, a peace proposal that African leaders have sought to pursue to help end the ongoing war.
African leaders urged the Russian President at the summit to move ahead with their peace plan to end the Ukraine war.
On his part, Putin iterated that Russia is ready for negotiations with Ukraine, but Ukraine is refusing to join them. Dmitry Peskov also said same in different words.
“Although Russia remains open to negotiations in order to achieve its goals, despite the rather difficult situation which the Ukrainian side is now in, they still have not changed anything. They reject the possibility of any negotiations.”Dmitry Peskov
Nonetheless, Putin later acknowledged that the initiative presented by African leaders could be a basis for peace in Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
So far, Russia and Ukraine have been presented with two peace plans; a 12-point peace proposal from China and the African peace plan.
It remains to be seen how or which of these plans will be implemented.