African leaders gather for second Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg

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Four years after the first gathering, African leaders will come together this week in the Russian city of St. Petersburg for the second Russia-Africa Summit.

The gathering this week is expected to be bigger, and it is believed that the summit is a bid to establish Russian allies in Africa.  The expectations are that the summit should have more significant gains for Africa this time, after many of 2019’s Russia-Africa Summit declarations fell short.

The St. Petersburg Summit takes place with Russia in the midst of a war with Ukraine –  which continues to have a knock-on effect in Africa.

Countries on the continent are facing soaring commodity prices and huge disruptions in grain supplies, however, there are assurances by President Vladimir Putin that Russia will be capable of providing grain both on a commercial and free-of-charge basis.

The Red Cross has recently warned that 140 million people in Africa are going hungry, so securing reliable supplies of food remains a top priority.

A Zimbabwean national in Russia, Brandon Mazumba says,  “It’s time to look east and see the other possibilities of working with Russia. We do not have bad blood with Russia. We really want to learn more about Russia. Get to know about the people, their policies. Engage with them with a lot of things be it economic, political, social.”

Deputy Dean, International Relations and Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Natalia Poplavskaya says, “There is a good chance to know each other better and a good chance to see the very specific areas of cooperation, in education, media, culture everywhere.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa during the Peace Mission held in June said, ”As a continent, we are being negatively affected. It is for this reason that there needs to be a guarantee for all countries.”

The Moscow establishment continues to court new partners in the wake of international sanctions, investment, security and peace are also expected to be priority topics in the engagement with African leaders.