Two-thirds of African leaders refused to go to Putin’s summit

The pompous Russia-Africa summit, which is intended to demonstrate Russia’s new diplomatic relationship and is “more important than ever” according to the Kremlin, will take place amid a boycott of most African heads of state.

Thirty-eight of Africa’s 54 countries did not send their leaders to the July 27-28 summit with President Vladimir Putin.

Only 17 countries will be represented at the level of heads of state, Presidential adviser Yuri Ushakov said on Tuesday (quoted by TASS and RBC). Another 10 African countries sent prime ministers to the event in St. Petersburg. Almost half of the summit participants sent sub-level delegations: 17 of them are headed by deputy prime ministers and ministers, and five are simply ambassadors. Five African countries completely refused to participate in the summit.

“Invitations have been sent to the heads of all African states,” Oleg Ozerov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s ambassador, told RIA Novosti. According to him, in Moscow they feel sorry for those who decided not to go.

“We will not complain because, firstly, they may have other pre-planned events involving heads of state. And secondly, who could, could, ”explained the diplomat.

According to Ushakov, Putin personally plans to meet with each of the leaders of African states. He is to hold talks with the presidents of Egypt, Mozambique, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Libya, Cameroon, Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Congo. On July 28, Putin will give a grand speech in which he will talk about creating a “new world order” based on “multipolarity and equality” of all states, Ushakov said.

On the eve of the summit, Putin published an article in which he reminded African countries of Soviet economic and technical assistance, spoke of the “strong and deep roots” of Russian-African friendship, and promised a “worthy place” in the “new world order.” He also proposed the representation of African countries in “structures that decide the fate of the world”, including the UN Security Council and the G20.

But Putin’s proposals did not interest African leaders, whose number at the summit has decreased compared to the same event in 2019. Then none of the countries refused the invitation, and 45 sent delegations headed by presidents and prime ministers (27 this year).

The disappointment of African officials is not surprising: four years ago, at the summit, Putin promised them a two-fold increase in trade, to $40 billion. But in fact, the turnover did not increase, and fell to 18 billion dollars. At the same time, Russia accounts for only 1% of foreign investment flowing into Africa – even Mauritius is investing more, writes Fortune.

The level of support for Russia and Putin personally in Africa is also low, points out Joseph Sigle, director of the research and strategic communications program at the African Center for Strategic Studies. “Recent polls show that Russia rarely receives positive reviews from more than a third of Africans. Russia is “popular” mainly among the elites that take advantage of the Russian presence. A substantial proportion of African citizens are skeptical of Putin and Russia,” notes Siegle.


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