Africa-Russia summit to meet again in Ethiopia in November-December

Moscow seeks to strengthen relations with states and geopolitical regions that have not condemned their operations in Ukraine

Economic Forum during the Russia-Africa Summit in 2019. (Photo: International Fund Apsny)

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African Newswire

Geostrategic analysis

Following a visit to Russia by the two top African Union (AU) officials, an announcement has been made that President Vladimir Putin is ready to hold another meeting to work on key issues facing the two geopolitical regions.

The last Africa-Russia Summit was held in Sochi in 2019 before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent impact on the global economy.

Today, there are Russian special military operations in Ukraine that have prompted the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to engage in a failed attempt to isolate Moscow globally. The current administration of President Joe Biden has placed the plight of the people of Ukraine above many other burning humanitarian and political crises.

Inflation is a major concern for workers and the oppressed as the Democratic administration and Congress attempt to distract public attention from the atrocities committed by the former administration of President Donald J. Trump. Whether the January 6 congressional hearings will be enough political capital to avert a possible defeat for the Democrats in the midterm elections remains to be seen.

As for AU member states, efforts by the Biden administration to build support for arming the Ukrainian military and imposing sanctions on Russia have met with no enthusiasm. Many African states have refrained from abiding by United Nations resolutions attacking the Russian Federation while at the local level there have been demonstrations of solidarity for Moscow’s position.

Senegalese President Macky Sall and AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat held talks in Sochi on June 3 with President Putin. African states face monumental crises related to economic development, climate change and food deficits. The sanctions imposed by Washington and the EU have had a disastrous impact on the import of agricultural products.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has repeatedly said that a negotiated settlement is needed to end the fighting in Ukraine. This view is at odds with Washington and Brussels, which have continued to engage in vitriolic propaganda and psychological warfare campaigns against the Russian government. Efforts by US Under Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee to influence journalists operating on the continent failed miserably when media professionals raised critical questions about contradictions in Washington’s foreign policy.

A source on the upcoming summit to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the seat of the AU, says of the current situation: “A coordination council has been established under the Russia-Russia Partnership Secretariat Africa. Forum (RAPF). According to Sergei Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, “concrete proposals for consolidating Russian-African cooperation are being developed by three councils (coordinating, public and scientific) attached to the secretariat of the Partnership Forum. They represent ministries, agencies, companies and public bodies committed to developing relations with the African continent. Moscow is on the verge of establishing strategic partnership relations with pan-African organizations and regional integration associations, Lavrov added. Lavrov said the two most important goals of the summit will be to sign a “memorandum of understanding between the government of the Russian Federation and the African Union on the basic principles of relations and cooperation” and a “memorandum of agreement between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the African Union on economic cooperation. -swivel-away-from-west-247188/)

The holding of such a meeting between Russia and the AU in this period of exacerbated international tensions represents a disavowal of American foreign policy in Eastern Europe as well as on the African continent. There is much dissatisfaction with the failure of the United States to establish relations with AU states on the basis of mutual interests.

Since the creation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2008 and the creation of Operation Barkhane and the G5 Sahel groups by the French government, the general security climate in Africa has deteriorated. Armed opposition groups claiming to be allied with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, both stemming from US counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, are carrying out attacks against civilians and military at a growing pace in Mali and Burkina Faso. , Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, among other states.

As a result, some states like Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR) have reached out to the Russian military services company known as the Wagner Group. France threatened to withdraw all military assistance to Mali if Wagner continued to advise the government in Bamako. In turn, the military regime in Mali demanded that the French armed forces and diplomatic personnel leave the country.

BRICS hold virtual summit hosted by China

The grouping Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) was to open its 14e June 23 summit. This organization, founded in 2006, brings together governments representing billions of people from South America to Africa and Asia.

Not even one of the states involved in the BRICS alliance has condemned Russia for its intervention in Ukraine. As highlighted during the June 3 talks between the AU and the Russian government in Sochi, the summit will work more towards building economic networks that are not dominated by Washington, London and Brussels.

The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, will present additional plans for drawing up ambitious proposals for a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Africa urgently needs infrastructure development projects related to health, education, transport and sustainable energy. Although the United States and its NATO allies have increased their military presence in Africa, China and Russia seek relations that improve the well-being of people in society.

Ideas raised in April by President Xi for a new Global Security Initiative (GSI) are of primary concern to the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon. An article published by a mainstream US news agency discusses Beijing’s role: “Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to seek BRICS support for his vision of an alternative world order, which he presented at a forum in April as a signature. Global Security Initiative. The main premise of the GSI is that the pursuit of “absolute security” is counterproductive. He opposes the construction of “national security on the basis of insecurity in other countries”. GSI may have support in the person of Putin, who was in Beijing a few weeks before he launched the invasion of Ukraine on February 24. to name the United States” (https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/22/vladimir-putin-to-address-brics-russia-invasion-of-ukraine.html)

No one should be surprised that the BRICS states are discussing these issues in light of the crisis in Ukraine. The proxy war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers requires the intervention of other blocs. Biden’s strategy in Ukraine has resulted in countless deaths and injuries. $55 billion has been pledged to continue the war as the US-backed Ukrainian military suffers huge losses in lives and equipment transported by NATO states.

Many leading African scholars see the BRICS Summit as well as the Forum on China-Africa Relations (FOCAC), which has existed since 2000, as ways for the continent and its people to foster social and economic development. Professor Ahmadu Aly Mbaye, an economist at the faculty of Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, noted that: “BRICS can present new alternatives to financing African economies and [facilitate] better integrating Africa into the global economy,” as African countries “felt excluded from the international system,” Mbaye said, noting that the continent has been the least funded amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mbaye stressed the importance of infrastructure in the development of a country. However, many African countries have limited access to international financing to build quality infrastructure, as international rating agencies “overestimate the level of risk in African countries”, he said. (http://brics2022.mfa.gov.cn/eng/tpzx/202206/t20220618_10705956.html)

A central foreign policy goal of the Biden administration was to keep AU states away from Moscow and Beijing. However, despite the horrific humanitarian crises unfolding from Eastern Europe to East Africa and South Asia, in the short term it seems that NATO’s aggressive imperialist approach under the aegis of the United States has not gained significant political traction. The fact that these international gatherings of a substantive nature are occurring bodes well for the future of Washington’s waning influence on the international stage.

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