Second Russia/ Africa summit begins in St Petersburg today
The second edition of the Russia/Africa summit, starting today in St Petersburg, takes place in a completely different geopolitical environment than the first (pre-pandemic), with the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marking the event, writes Lusa today in a text that shows that “most Portuguese.speaking African countries” have nonetheless chosen to participate.
Only Cabo Verde has blanked the event totally – on the basis that it wants to “avoid any action that could be interpreted as support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.
Cabo Verde’s prime minister Ulisses Correia e Silva told journalists yesterday: “We are and have been consistent from the first moment: we condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the proper forums at the level of the United Nations resolutions and we continue with the same option of – until this war is over – not having any action that can be interpreted as support for this invasion.”
Otherwise, the heads of State of Portuguese-speaking countries of Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau (Presidents Umaro Sissoco Embaló and Filipe Nyusi, respectively) will be attending, while Angola has sent its minister of foreign affairs, Téte António, and São Tomé and Príncipe is represented by the ambassador in Lisbon, who is also accredited in Moscow.
Equatorial Guinea, which also belongs to the Communities of Portuguese Language Countries, is being represented by its vice-president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mangue.
Says Lusa, “the African continent is looking to the St Petersburg summit to see if Russia retains the same economic power it had in 2019”.
The event is expected to be marked not only by the ongoing war, but the issue of access to Russian and Ukrainian grain (whose sales to Africa have been hampered or even suspended due to the war), the presence of the Wagner paramilitary group in several African countries, and the sale of arms.
Only last week, the president of Guinea-Bissau described how the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is concerned about the presence of mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group in the region, notably in Mali.
For Moscow, says Lusa, the summit signals that it is not isolated internationally. Or put another way, Moscow hopes this is the message, albeit attendance by African nations in this edition of the summit is vastly reduced on attendance in 2019.
Russia and African countries are expected to sign an “action plan until 2026” and a series of bilateral documents, as the Kremlin announced, trying to move the relationship beyond defence and arms deals, which have mostly summed up Moscow’s relationship with Africa to date, Lusa continues.
African states are also expected to push for a solution to the war, following a proposal by seven countries, led by South Africa, says the Portuguese State news agency.