Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host African leaders in St. Petersburg, one week after he pulled Russia from a crucial grain deal with Ukraine. Key allies are reportedly growing frustrated with Putin following weeks of domestic tensions in Russia.
We’ve gathered key insights on Russia’s precarious foreign relations.
- One Kenyan official called Putin’s decision to pull out of the Black Sea grain deal a “stab in the back.” The exports which crossed the Black Sea delivered crucial grains throughout the Horn of Africa, an area hit by extensive droughts. Kenya is facing soaring inflation and a high cost of living, which is likely to worsen following the deal’s end. President William Ruto recently hinted that Russian officials had threatened African leaders if they did not attend the summit: “All of us are forced to go to a meeting that has no meaningful outcome because of blackmail,” he said in May. — The Financial Times
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko might be losing patience with the Wagner Group’s presence in his country’s borders. According to Russian media sources, the mercenary group fighters are starting to ”bother" him, and have been asking to be allowed to go into neighboring Poland. “I’m keeping them in the center of Belarus, as was agreed upon,” Lukashenko said. Polish troops have been gathering along its border with Russia and Belarus. — Meduza
- “These days Vladimir Putin is Xi Jinping’s No. 1 good fellow,” writes Soviet historian Sergey Radchenko, but says that Putin should be wary that Russia is useful to China, until it isn’t. While Putin and Xi are currently closely aligned over their rejection of U.S.-led global politics, Xi also knows when he can exploit a country’s weaknesses. Xi is likely watching Russia’s current domestic tensions, and it’s not clear if China would stand by Putin if their common interests began to diverge. Historically, there are “no good feelings” when it comes to China — only “cold calculation.” — The New York Times
Putin hosted Lukashenko for bilateral talks in St. Petersburg this past weekend, and told the Belarusian leader that Ukraine’s counteroffensive had failed.
Belarus is reportedly training its own forces to react as Polish troops gather near the border between the countries.