African leaders meet Putin in Russia before BRICS summit

The Russian president will host leaders of African countries for a summit in his native Saint Petersburg on Thursday, the meeting comes as the continent prepares for the potential repercussions of Moscow’s withdrawal from the Ukraine grain export deal.

Despite facing international isolation since initiating a full-scale military intervention in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin continues to receive support from several African countries.

“It is important that in recent years our cooperation with Africa has reached a new level. We intend to further develop it,”¬†Putin¬†said in a welcome letter to participants of the summit.

The Kremlin has accused Western countries of attempting to hinder African states from taking part in the summit. The summit is the second of its kind, following the inaugural event held in 2019 in Sochi, southern Russia.

Putin is scheduled to engage in bilateral talks with his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit and will deliver an address during the plenary session.

In his speech, Putin will elaborate on his vision of Russia-Africa relations and the “formation of a new world order,” as stated by Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov.

The termination of the deal that facilitated Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea to global markets, including Africa, is expected to be a significant topic on the summit’s agenda.

Over the course of a year, the deal enabled approximately 33 million tonnes of grain to be exported from Ukrainian ports, playing a crucial role in stabilizing global food prices and preventing shortages.

Russia-Africa find common ground

Moscow has sought to reassure its African partners, understanding their concerns about the grain export issue, and has expressed readiness to provide free grain exports to African countries in need.

The summit will provide a platform for exchanging views on key issues, as highlighted by Vsevolod Sviridov of the Centre for African Studies at HSE University.

“It is necessary to find common ground, to explain to each other positions on topical issues, for example, the grain deal,” Sviridov told media.

On Wednesday, Putin held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, commending their collaborative energy projects.

Delegations from various African states, including Mozambique and Libya, continued to arrive in the former imperial capital ahead of the summit, as reported by the Russian state news agency TASS on Thursday.

The summit in Saint Petersburg occurs a month before the BRICS countries’ leaders (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are set to convene in Johannesburg.

South Africa has confirmed that Putin, who is the subject of an international arrest warrant for his actions in Ukraine, will not be attending the summit in person.

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