The two-day Russia-Africa Summit kicks off in St. Petersburg today. Delegations from 49 countries are expected to participate, including around twenty heads of state and government, significantly fewer than at the first summit of this kind in Sochi five years ago. This time the focus will likely to be on the grain agreement with Ukraine that Moscow has refused to extend. What does President Putin have to offer?

 

Nothing Substantial to Offer

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wonders what Russia actually wants to present to the Africans:

“Putin always has destructive aid on offer, such as the 'export' of Wagner mercenaries along with extensive arms deliveries as seen in Mali. However not only in comparison to the West but especially in comparison to China, what Russia holds out to the Africans seems pretty thin. And so the event in St Petersburg will undoubtedly be a propaganda success within Russia, as the president can showcase himself on an international stage. Nevertheless, substantially, even the most beautiful staging in the splendour of palaces from the tsarist era cannot disguise the fact that the host represents a country on the decline.”

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Insignificant as a trading partner 

Russia's economic ties with Africa are marginal and for the most part export-oriented, writes Vladimir Stroyev, rector of the State University of Management, in Izvestia:

“Our country accounts for less than one per cent of foreign direct investment in Africa and two per cent of total international trade there. Russian trade with Africa is many times lower than that of the US, China or the EU. And the trade balance is extremely asymmetric: Russia exports mostly grain (and to a lesser extent fuel) to a small group of countries - mainly Algeria and Egypt, but also Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and South Africa. And Russia imports one eighth the amount of goods from Africa than it exports there.”

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Russia's grain hypocrisy 

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African countries suffering from the shortage of grain are hostage to Russia's inconsistent approach, Novinky.cz comments:

“Yet ahead of the upcoming Russia-Africa summit President Vladimir Putin has the audacity to say: 'Russia will continue its vigorous efforts to supply Africa with grain, food, fertilisers and other goods'. However these vigorous efforts by Russia are not aimed at renewing the agreement on exports of Ukrainian grain, which would lead to a fall in grain prices. Instead Russia is vigorously attacking Ukrainian ports and grain storage hangars, leaving nothing to export.”

 

Moscow increasing dependency

Putin is trying to maintain his influence with promises of grain, Le Figaro notes:

“On the eve of the summit, he stated that Moscow had always supported Africa in its 'struggle for liberation from the colonial yoke' without interfering in matters of governance. And paradoxically, he has acquired one last leverage by emphasizing Africa's dependence on Russian grain: he promised to assist the weakest countries with grain and fertilizer donations. The most loyal partners will be served first!”

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Comments ( 1)

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Dirk
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

I think is the moment to have an good look with who you are doing business with before making strong relations. If i was of the delegation of Egypt I would ask, myself if Russia would approach the historic centre of Cairo like it has approached the historic centre of Odesa? In any conflict would the civilian population treated better of an African country than the one of Bucha. Would POW 's treated any better than the ones of Mariupol where the UN now is making an investigation after. Russia has a low birth rate but are the children of any African country save?
If Russia replies with some ferry tale are the African people certain that Russia has the mechanism to replace a failing leader? Who will resign if independent international research points with no reasonable doubt to the Kremlin as source for points like this?

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