In Moscow's conflict with Ukraine, Putin suggested an idea put forth by African leaders might serve as a basis for peace, but he also said Kiev's attacks made any cessation of hostilities "virtually impossible."
The Russian leader made the remarks on Saturday in Moscow after meeting with African leaders and hearing their requests that Russia follow through with its plan.
This week, 17 African leaders came to St. Petersburg to be welcomed by the Russians.
According to Putin, the second summit between Russian and African leaders will strengthen ties and cooperation for years to come. Russia, which was grappling for influence and allies after it invaded Ukraine, may become isolated in the wake of the incident.
“We see the same, reciprocal interest to act together, hand in hand, on the part of our African friends,” Putin said.
In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine almost a year and a half ago, food hunger was a major topic of discussion during the summit. Food and oil prices have already increased substantially since Russian troops invaded Ukraine, escalating the food crisis in the world.
In the days leading up to the announcement, Russia announced that it would stop participating in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. This would have enabled food to be shipped from Ukrainian ports. Developing nations were immediately concerned about the consequences of this action.
As per the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, 57% of Ukraine's grain was shipped to Africa and Asia as part of the Black Sea Grain project, rendering these countries notably vulnerable.
In the upcoming months, Putin announced his intention to allocate a quantity of grain ranging from 27,000 to 52,000 tons to Burkina Faso, Mali, Zimbabwe, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea.
Attributing the Western sanctions to the war, he contended that Russia faced obstacles in providing fertilizers.
Russia's aid during the anti-colonial struggles on the African continent bolstered political connections with several African nations. Concluding the summit, the presidents of Russia and Africa signed a statement committing to collaborative efforts in seeking restitution for the harms of colonialism and the repatriation of cultural artifacts.
The summit also placed added pressure on Russia to assert itself amid competing international interests in Africa, particularly from formidable players like the United States and China. Notably, the United States held its own Africa summit the previous year, where Vice President Biden assured African leaders of America's unwavering commitment to the continent's future. Meanwhile, China continues to wield substantial influence on the continent through significant aid and investments.
During the summit, leaders emphasized their desire for greater representation and influence on the global stage. Given that the 54 states comprising the continent constitute the largest voting bloc at the UN, these leaders are amplifying their calls for the African Union's permanent admission to the exclusive club of the world's 20 most powerful, affluent, and industrialized nations. Additionally, they urged Putin to take decisive steps in implementing the peace plan that was proposed last month to address the conflict in Ukraine.
Experts note that Africa is unmistakably asserting its aspiration to become an autonomous geopolitical force, engaging in a competition for influence with other prominent states.
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