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Jul 30, 2023 / 10:30

Not ideal but noteworthy

It was vital for Russia and its president to turn this summit into a great success.

The second Russia-Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg ended after two days of talks, discussions, and speeches with a final joint declaration. Representatives of 49 African nations, among them 17 heads of state and government, attended the big political and media event. The first summit was held in Sochi in 2019.


 Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi at the Russia Africa Summit in St. Petersburg on July 28. Photo: AP

This encounter was from the beginning of immense importance for Russia and its president Vladimir Putin personally. The present circumstances aren't favorable for Russia in comparison to the time of the first Russia-Africa Summit. Russia is deeply engaged in the Ukraine war. The West has been imposing tough sanctions against Russia and supporting Ukraine with firm determination to enable Ukraine to defeat Russia. Even President Putin is facing a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Some days ago, Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal, raising anger and concerns in many African countries. Furthermore, African countries weren't satisfied with the way Russia had dealt with their peace proposal to politically end the war in Ukraine. And all that happened at a time when both the West and Russia need African countries as strategic partners and allies more than ever before. The African countries are fully aware of this fact but are divided on the Ukraine war and Russia.


This summit was one of the rare opportunities for Russia to present itself internationally, to show that the West has failed to politically isolate Russia, and to demonstrate that Russia despite the ongoing war in Ukraine remains still a sought-after partner in the world and especially in Africa. It was vital for Russia and its president to turn this summit into a great success.


The results were not ideal but still very noteworthy for Russia. Russia wanted more but didn't get more. Russia's African guests have still had concerns and reservations but the dominating color in the joint declaration was consent and unity. Concrete commitments made by Vladimir Putin personally like that Russia will continue to supply "African friends with grain crops on a contractual basis and free of charge", to wipe out the depths of Africa, to improve cooperation on aid, energy, trade, climate, and security.... had remarkably softened concerns and reservations of African countries. Even though African countries still demand Russia quickly end the Ukraine war, rejoining the Black Sea grain deal and seriously considering the African peace proposal for a political solution to the Ukraine war, Russia is still accepted and needed by them as a strategic partner and ally. Russia's new initiatives for Africa have been overwhelmingly welcomed by African participants of this summit. That only 17 heads of state and government from 53 African countries attended this summit was clearly a backlash for Russia and for Vladimir Putin personally. But with this summit, the cooperation between Russia and Africa is still advancing forward in the right direction. And it showed that the West can't easily and soon succeed in dividing Africa and Russia. But it often reminded Russia of having to pay truer attention to the actual demands and interests of African countries.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Hanoi Times.