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Russia: Russia follows old path in new scramble for a piece of the continent

Russian President Vladimir Putin (centre) chairs a meeting in his residence outside the Moscow on October 16, 2019. Russia will host the inaugural Russia–Africa Economic Forum on October 23 and 24. PHOTO | ALEXEI DRUZHININ | SPUTNIK | AFP
By: Aggrey Mutambo. 20:10: 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin is this week set to host dozens of African leaders in the scenic city of Sochi at a summit that marks the erstwhile global power’s biggest foray into the continent since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

More than 50 African heads of state have been invited to the two-day forum, which is seen as Russia’s counter to Chinese, US, Europe and Japanese influence on the continent.

Mr Putin, who has been Moscow’s power centre for more than two decades—during which he once swapped roles with his Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev—will be eyeing military and trade deals to power Russia’s economy in the coming years.

“Russian companies are ready to offer our African partners their scientific and technological developments and experience in modernising energy, transport, and communication infrastructure,” President Putin said in a pre-summit statement that points to Moscow’s business interests on the continent. 

After exerting influence in his backyard through active involvement in regional diplomatic and territorial conquests, Russia’s hosting of the inaugural summit with Africa on October 23 and 24 signals Moscow’s determination to get a piece of the continental pie in the post-Cold War era.

The inaugural summit is seen as a counter to Washington’s US-Africa Summit, China’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and Japan’s Ticad conferences as well as the EU’s Europe-Africa meetings.


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