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Jul 25, 2023, 1:09pm EDT
africa

What to expect from the Russia-Africa Summit

Sergei Chirikov/Pool via Reuters
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The News

African heads of state and Russian officials are set to attend the second Russia-Africa summit which will be held this week, from July 27 to 28, in St. Petersburg. The last summit was held four years ago (pictured). It will run concurrently with the Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum, focused on business meetings.

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→ What will be discussed? Food security is likely to be high on the agenda after Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal last week. That move threatens to cause food shortages in parts of Africa and push up global food prices.

The African Union has expressed “regret” over Russia’s decision. According to Russian news agency TASS, President Vladimir Putin yesterday said Russia will continue “vigorously working” toward sending grain, food and fertilizer to Africa. Some countries will also discuss military cooperation.

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→ Who’s coming? South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies (ISS) expects at least 40 African heads of state and senior leaders to attend. In 2019, representatives from all 54 African states, including 43 heads of state attended the summit.

→ What is Russia planning? President Putin plans to discuss Ukraine with a group of African leaders over a working lunch on July 28, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

African-led efforts to broker peace discussions between Russia and Ukraine last month saw seven African heads of state hold talks with the leaders of both countries.

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→ Anything else? The future of the Wagner private army, whose troops are present in some African countries, is also likely to be discussed in the wake of the force’s abortive mutiny last month.

→ What are analysts saying? “Russia has turned sharply towards Africa to circumvent Western isolation following its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The St. Petersburg meeting is a chance to show that Moscow has not been isolated and has alternative partners willing to deepen their cooperation with the Kremlin,” said Priyal Singh, a senior researcher at ISS.

Cameron Hudson, an analyst with the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said African leaders have made comments in the run-up to the summit that suggest they are looking for signs of a peace process to end the “pernicious effects” of the conflict on Africa. “This is a decisive moment for both Africa and Putin in their relationship.”

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