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Putin promises grains, debt write-off as Russia seeks Africa allies

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Russian President Vladimir Putin extended his country’s support to African nations, vowing to promote a multipolar world order and combat “neocolonialism.” As part of Russia’s growing attention to Africa, Putin promised debt write-offs and free grain to six African countries, attempting to bolster alliances and counter international isolation following the conflict in Ukraine.

The summit, attended by representatives from 49 countries, emphasized the establishment of a more just and balanced multipolar world order while opposing confrontations in Africa. Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem reported that Russia is pursuing ambitious initiatives towards Africa, seeking to revive investments reminiscent of the Soviet era. Russia plans to build plants, factories, and expand diplomatic missions on the continent.

Despite Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal, Putin assured that grain supplies to Africa would continue. He attributed the rise in global food prices and inflation to Western actions, emphasizing that the global economic system is undergoing significant change. Putin recognized Africa’s growing political and economic influence, describing it as the “new center of power” that cannot be ignored.

In recent years, Russia has intensified its diplomatic and economic engagements in Africa, offering security services like the Wagner mercenary army to assist governments facing armed groups. However, with the need to diversify its partners beyond Europe, Russia has accelerated its efforts to draw African countries into its camp, presenting itself as a counterbalance to Western “imperialism” and “neocolonialism.”

African leaders pressed Putin to support their peace plan to end the conflict in Ukraine. While not directly critical of Russia, their calls for peace were more forceful than before, reflecting the deep concern over the war’s consequences and rising food prices.

The summit concluded with pledges to improve cooperation on aid, energy, and trade, including the use of national currencies for commercial transactions. Putin also committed to erasing Africa’s debts and supporting efforts to seek compensation for colonial rule’s damages and the restoration of plundered cultural treasures. Several African leaders expressed gratitude for Russia’s support during their countries’ liberation struggles, with Mali and the Central African Republic acknowledging Russia’s assistance in preserving democracy and avoiding civil war.

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