Russia-Africa Summit – Putin promises free grain deliveries to six African countries

Russia-Africa Summit – Putin promises free grain deliveries to six African countries: Vladimir Putin opened the second Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg on Thursday July 27 with a promise of free grain deliveries to six African countries, against a backdrop of concern following the termination of an agreement allowing the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian agricultural products.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi make a press statement following the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, on October 24, 2019. (Photo by Sergei CHIRIKOV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI CHIRIKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia-Africa Relations: A Growing Partnership

Russia and Africa have a long history of relations, dating back to the days of the Soviet Union. In recent years, these relations have been growing, as Russia has sought to expand its influence on the continent.

There are a number of reasons for Russia’s interest in Africa. First, Africa is a resource-rich continent, with abundant reserves of oil, gas, minerals, and other commodities. Russia is eager to secure access to these resources, which can help to fuel its own economy.

Second, Africa is a growing market for Russian goods and services. As the African middle class expands, there is increasing demand for Russian products, such as cars, smartphones, and construction equipment.

Third, Russia sees Africa as a potential ally in the global arena. Africa is a non-aligned continent, and Russia is hoping to build partnerships with African countries that can help to counter the influence of the United States and the European Union.

Russia-Africa Summit – Putin promises free grain deliveries to six African countries

In recent years, Russia has taken a number of steps to strengthen its ties with Africa. In 2019, Russia hosted the first Russia-Africa Summit, which was attended by leaders from over 50 African countries. Russia has also increased its military cooperation with African countries, and it has provided military training and equipment to a number of African armies.

The growing partnership between Russia and Africa has been met with mixed reactions. Some African leaders welcome Russia’s interest in the continent, as they see it as an opportunity to diversify their economic partners and gain access to new markets. Others are concerned about Russia’s intentions, and they worry that Russia is seeking to exploit Africa’s resources and undermine its democratic institutions.

Only time will tell how the Russia-Africa relationship will evolve in the years to come. However, it is clear that this relationship is growing in importance, and it will have a significant impact on the future of Africa.

Russia-Africa Summit – Putin promises free grain deliveries to six African countries

Isolated on the international stage since the launch of its military offensive in Ukraine in 2022, the Kremlin can still count on the support, or neutrality, of many African countries, and the Russia-Africa summit is seen as a diplomatic and political test for Moscow. In his opening address, the Russian president assured the audience that Moscow would be able to deliver up to 50,000 tonnes of grain free of charge to six countries “in the coming months”, citing Zimbabwe, Somalia and Eritrea, as well as three countries that have drawn closer to Moscow in recent years: Mali, Central Africa and Burkina Faso.

“Our country can replace Ukrainian grain commercially and free of charge”, he said, asserting that Russia was a “solid and responsible” producer.

Last week, Moscow refused to extend the grain agreement signed in July 2022 under the aegis of the United Nations and Turkey, which allowed Ukraine to export its agricultural products via the Black Sea despite the fighting. In the space of a year, the agreement had enabled nearly 33 million tonnes of grain to leave Ukrainian ports, helping to stabilize food prices and avert the risk of shortages.

Russia-Africa Summit 2023: Moscow makes its move

For this 2023 edition, the organizers have set up an Economic Forum as part of the summit, with a section dedicated to humanitarian issues, with the aim of diversifying this strategic partnership initiated by Moscow with a view to “long-term development”, stressed the Kremlin spokesman. With this in mind, and in preparation for the various aspects of the summit, Russia has stepped up its messages of support for Africa and its diplomatic missions in recent months.

As you may recall, in January 2023, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made two African tours of several countries to lay the groundwork for this very important conference for Vladimir Putin, who wants to expand his relations in Africa and win the confidence of several countries on the continent, thus countering the isolation imposed on him by the West. It’s also a way of reviewing Russia’s cards in terms of trade, which still fall far short of Moscow’s and Africa’s expectations.


Important sectors of cooperation between Russia and Africa, such as armaments, are the most urgent, since for the past decade, Moscow has been asserting its desire to strengthen its military partnerships with numerous countries such as Cameroon, Ethiopia, South Africa, the Central African Republic and Mali.

These agreements follow a long-standing tradition dating back to the days of independence. At that time, the Soviet Union supplied arms to many African countries. But continuity failed to materialize after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The Kremlin intends to make up for this delay with the help of the Wagner militia, which has already made its mark in recent years in countries such as the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and Libya.

It is in this sense that we need to understand that between 2018 and 2022, Russia has achieved a major turnaround by dethroning China as the leading arms exporter to sub-Saharan Africa, as we can read in a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, rising from 21% to 26% market share. The same report tells us that “arms deliveries to Africa represent only a small share of Russia’s arms exports (12% in 2022), whose overall volume has fallen significantly in recent years, and even more so with the war in Ukraine”.