Putin Hosts VIRTUALLY ALL African Leaders at Gargantuan Trade Forum in Sochi

Writes off $20bn in old debts, bashes western intimidation and blackmail of Africans, concludes a flurry of agreements

Comment: We can only imagine the conversations that led to this…

Advisor: Mr. President, we were thinking of getting a few African leaders together for talks…

Putin: Yes. How about all of them?

Heads of African countries have flocked to Russia for a first-of-its-kind summit, where Moscow will be offering business ties and security arrangements alternative to ‘colonial-style’ relations with the West.

Over the past decade, the African continent has become a battleground for geostrategic competition involving China, the US, and the EU, which compete with each for military access, economic superiority, and soft power supremacy.

Countries like India, South Korea, and Gulf monarchies have interests in Africa too. So does Russia, which has the advantage of old ties in the region and touts itself as an ideology-free pragmatic partner that wouldn’t leverage its offers to extort geopolitical allegiances.

“We have something to offer our African friends. This, in particular, will be discussed at the upcoming summit. And of course, we aim, together with our African partners, to uphold common economic interests and protect them from unilateral sanctions, including by reducing the share of the dollar and switching to other currencies in mutual settlements,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a recent interview for TASS.

That’s not all he said:

“We see how an array of Western countries are resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments. They are using such methods to try to return lost influence and dominance in their former colonies in a new guise and rushing to pump out maximum profits and to exploit the continent.”

Biggest gathering ever

With that in mind the Russian leader will be hosting this week a two-day event meant to further that ambition. The Russia-Africa summit in Sochi expects over 3,000 guests, including 44 presidents and prime ministers of African nations.

Apparently, “more than 50 leaders” showed up. Africa is comprised of 54 countries…

It’s the first time in Russia’s modern history that it welcomes so many African dignitaries at once. Even the protocol part, which requires Putin to shake hands and exchange polite words with each visiting head of state, is expected to take at least an hour.

The Russian president will then be holding a marathon series of talks with at least a dozen of foreign leaders. Those include Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who also co-chairs the gathering in his capacity as chair of the African Union. The bilateral talks are expected to extend beyond Thursday evening, when the summit itself ends.

Grains and atoms

The high-profile summit is a culmination of diplomatic efforts over the past several years meant to boost Russia’s presence in the region. Moscow believes there is much potential for growth in this area, especially when compared to other players. African nations’ trade with China, for example, stood at over $204 billion last year, compared to $20 billion with Russia. The US, the EU, India and even the relatively small economy United Arab Emirates were all ahead of Russia.

But Russian trade is rapidly growing, having almost tripled since 2010. It also already has a strong economic foothold in some African nations like Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, South Africa or Tunis, playing on its strong points.

For instance, one of the top Russian exports to Egypt is wheat. Russia transformed itself into a major crops producer and the world-leading exporter of wheat after the tit-for-tat sanctions war with the EU led to shutdown of Russian markets to European food products.

It gave a boost to the Russian agriculture sector, and led Moscow to search for new markets. It can also offer a lot of complimentary agriculture products, from fertilizers through combine machines and other equipment, to know-how which Russian farmers came up with during the surprise boom.

Another area where Russia has an edge over competition is civilian nuclear technology. Egypt’s first nuclear power plant El Dabaa is being built by Russian engineers and funded by a Russian loan. Earlier in April Ethiopia agreed to host a Russian nuclear excellence center, with plans for a Russian-designed nuclear power plant on the table.

There is also the traditional article of Russian trade in Africa: weapons. Moscow currently has arms trade agreements with over 30 African nations. Egypt is about to launch license production of Russia’s advanced T-90 main battle tanks. Angola in April had received the last batch of the 12 upgraded Sukhoi Su-30K fighter jets, which it bought a few years ago. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates that Russian sales of arms to African countries doubled between 2012 and 2017, with both the US and China falling behind.

Russia’s soft power on the rise

Russia has a less tangible edge over some of its competition in Africa, since it has no toxic historic colonial baggage. In fact, Soviet Union supported pro-independence movements throughout Africa as European nations were withdrawing from it. It was, of course, part of the Cold War ideological confrontation with Washington, but it built some goodwill that comes in handy today.

In the 1960s Moscow gave free education to thousands of Africans. Soviet-trained engineers and technicians were essential for manning Soviet-constructed infrastructure in African nations, while Soviet-trained officers commanded African troops equipped with Soviet-supplied hardware. A similar trend emerged today.

Last year some 17,000 students form more than 50 African nations were getting higher education in Russia, including 4,000, who won scholarships from the Russian government. Hundreds of others were sponsored by Russian companies investing in energy and mineral projects in Africa, which want a cadre of trained employees recruited from the local population.

Russia’s current influence in Africa, of course, is a far cry from what Soviet Union used to have at the peak of its power. And it’s not like Moscow wants to play a superpower overlord again. But it sees a place for itself as a power that African nations can turn to when it has problems it can’t solve on its own, be they domestic or foreign.

“What we aim for is not to ‘redistribute’ the riches of the continent, but competition for cooperation with Africa,” Putin said in the interview. The important thing is that it stays civilized.”

By that he doesn’t mean that Africa ‘stay civilized’; he means that the modern ‘scramble for Africa’ between competing geopolitical interests stay civilized.

This is why when people equate Chinese activities in Africa with past (and present) Western ones, they have no idea what they’re talking about.

UPDATE 1:

The deals are coming in thick and fast. So far…

Russia writes off African debt worth over $20 BILLION

Moscow has written off more than $20 billion in debt accumulated by African countries during the Soviet era. […]

“It was not only an act of generosity, but also a manifestation of pragmatism, because many of the African states were not able to pay interest on these loans,” Putin told TASS on the eve of the summit.

While addressing the Russia-Africa forum in Sochi, he called for trade between Russia and African countries to be doubled in the next four to five years.

Russia aims to double agricultural exports to Africa

Russia & Niger ink deal for delivery of MI-35 combat helicopters

A contract for the supply of 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters has been sealed by Russia and Niger on Wednesday in Sochi at the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum.

Niger’s Foreign Minister Kalla Ankourao said the aircraft will be used to fight the Boko Haram terrorist organization.

Russia & Ethiopia agree cooperation on peaceful use of nuclear energy

An intergovernmental agreement for cooperation on peaceful use of nuclear energy has been signed by Moscow and Addis Ababa, according to the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.https://www.sott.net/video?file=/cdnv.rt.com/files/2019.10/5db0841d85f54023916b0b77.mp4&image=/cdni.rt.com/files/2019.10/article/5db084ba2030277d515c5286.jpg&jwsource=cl

UPDATE 2

Driving the message home for Washington, two Russian ‘Blackjack’ Tu-160 strategic bombers have just landed in South Africa “for joint military exercises…”

Source: SOTT

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thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
3 months ago

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-09/nation-built-on-gold-loses-its-african-crown-to-rival-ghana

By itself, this article is probably insignificant.
After this meeting in Sochi with more than 40 African heads of state, one can sense that Russia and Africa are about to set sail to calmer seas.

It wouldn’t be enough to mention minerals without specifying gold, silver, platinum, palladium, oil, tin, nickel, etc. It could be a master strategy has developed which is leveraged against Western nations bent on hyperinflation and paper money until their economies collapse.

Without being privy to details, I can only conjecture that most African nations will revert to metal standards or metal-fiat linkage. I sense this is how the Russians are involved: acting somewhat as a currency producer with more or less equal share of whatever respective mineral is mined. I think the interest here probably approaches the California Gold Rush of 1848, but with more practical applications.

The emphasis will be on rebuilding nations with gold and silver as the foremost payment, option as fiat may be near its obsolescence.

While these are exciting times for Africa, the Russians are probably consider having a summit with South and Central American nations.

LS
LS
3 months ago

How sweet it is. All of my money is in Russia + China + Emerging Markets.

Richard Hollembeak
Richard Hollembeak
3 months ago
Reply to  LS

What no Federal Reserve Notes ?

CHUCKMAN
3 months ago

Just fascinating.

Putin and his remarkable team never stop at coming up with new efforts to peacefully channel the course of world affairs and to increase Russia’s trade and influence with others.

Building new relationships, offering new services, offering genuine help.

The cancelling of all that African debt, too, is a master stroke.

The Russians and the Chinese are everything today in such international affairs that the US should have been, but very much is not.

Of course, in some ways, both Russia and China are in special positions to help such countries, given their immense experience in huge infrastructure projects, from dams and nuclear power plants to railroads and agriculture and heavy industries.

Africa is even more interesting today because of its continental free-trade association.

It remains a very important source of a whole range of important minerals, and its population is growing more rapidly than we see anywhere else, offering big future opportunities for trade and investment growth.

DarkEyes
DarkEyes
3 months ago
Reply to  CHUCKMAN

And this next step by Mr Putin with Africa has also to do with the OBOR actionplan by China and Russia.
OBOR is a hugh project to connect continents to trade with each other, make and keep peace as finally a good life for everybody.

Hopefully Russia might convince Mrs Merkel she made a unilateral error by letting Soros control her and opened the German borders for everybody to come to Germany and of course she will distribute the burden across Europe.
Not everybody is following Mrs Merkel in this insane actionplan.

Russia, again, will save insane Europe from its miserable migration burden, I hope.

JustPassingThrough
JustPassingThrough
3 months ago

not a bad arrangement.

The EU trades its capital for the african refugees it created with its imperialistic wars.

RU and CN trades product and keeps the people at home.

as for the murikan mongrels, their miserable african bases will stay miserable.

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
3 months ago

As in Syria, the bases may be evacuated.

Canosin
Canosin
3 months ago

will be chased away in humiliation

JustPassingThrough
JustPassingThrough
3 months ago

they can’t find them 🙂
SEARCH: “how many refugees have gone missing in the EU?”

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
3 months ago

You mean terrorists?

JustPassingThrough
JustPassingThrough
3 months ago

children

Canosin
Canosin
3 months ago

brilliantly summarized

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
3 months ago

I assume African nations are putting up substantial collateral (land, mineral rights) to secure Russia’s technical assistance and products.

Aside from that, the transactions will be either in barter or 54 different currencies.

JustPassingThrough
JustPassingThrough
3 months ago

business is…

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
3 months ago

. . .business.

RedBaron9495
RedBaron9495
3 months ago

Instead of dollars….they might use Yen or Euros or Yuan

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
3 months ago
Reply to  RedBaron9495

I’d be wary of those currencies. Let’s just say Russia has a better balance sheet.

Anti-Empire