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Forgiven Debt, Free Grain, New Heights of Cooperation: Putin's Key Takeaways on Africa

© Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich / Go to the mediabankMarch 20, 2023. Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the international parliamentary conference "Russia - Africa in a multipolar world".
March 20, 2023. Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the international parliamentary conference Russia - Africa in a multipolar world. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.03.2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the second Russia-Africa International Parliamentary Conference which began in Moscow on March 19, and addressing the plenary session, titled “Russia-Africa in a Multipolar World.”
Cooperation between Russian and Africa has gained momentum and is already reaching a qualitatively new level, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated while speaking during the second Russia-Africa International Parliamentary Conference.
The president added that Russia has always paid attention to cooperation with African countries and will continue to do so.
Moreover, Putin stated that he believes Africa will become one of the leaders among the powers shaping the world order, noting that there are objective prerequisites for this.
"African states are constantly increasing their role in world affairs. More and more confidently declare their position in politics and economics. We are convinced that Africa will become one of the leaders of the emerging multipolar world order," he said.
The president noted that even though African countries still account for only 3% of global GDP, the world is witnessing the economies of many of them growing at an accelerated pace.

He highlighted that Russia is determined to build a strategic partnership with African countries and shape the global agenda together. In this regard, Putin added, Moscow has written off debt for African countries in the amount of more than $20 billion.

Speaking about ways of enhancing cooperation between Russia and African states, the president indicated several areas of mutual interest with great potential for expansion, including healthcare, energy, and military sphere.
In particular, Russia intends to increase cooperation with Africa on urgent topics such as medicine and healthcare, as well as ensuring biological and epidemiological safety. According to the president, Russia is ready to provide drugs and mobile laboratories to the continent.
Moreover, Putin added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia was one of the first countries that began to supply large volumes of vaccines, test systems, sanitary and hygienic products, and other medical and humanitarian supplies to African countries.
He also confirmed to the African members of parliament that Russia will continue to help Africa with electricity and expand energy systems on the continent. Apart from that, he underscored that Russia continues to cooperate with African countries in the military-technical sphere.
"Military-technical cooperation continues, including the supply of Russian weapons and military equipment to African partners," Putin stated.
The president also noted that currently, military personnel from more than 20 African countries are studying at universities of the Russian Defense Ministry.
Speaking on the topic of the grain deal, the president underlined that Russia insists on the package nature of the grain deal and its full implementation, so that food products are sent to Africa, which currently receives only 3% of the grain exports.
"Out of the total amount of grain and food exported from Ukraine, approximately 45% went to European countries. And only 3% goes to Africa," Putin explained.
He recalled that Russia recently agreed to extend for another 60 days the agreement concluded in Istanbul on the export of Ukrainian food products through the Black Sea and the unblocking of Russian agricultural exports and fertilizer supplies. Putin noted that the move is guided by the needs of primarily African countries, saying that Russia is taking into account the interests of African and other developing states, bearing in mind that they need large amounts of food.
He stated that from August 1 to September 20 of this year, 827 ships had left Ukraine. However, only three million tons of grain were sent to the continent and 1.3 million to the poorest African countries.
The president reiterated that Moscow insists on full compliance with key Russian requirements, and the need for grain and fertilizers exports to be delivered to the African sates in need, and not to "well-fed European countries."
He stressed that Russia has sent almost 12 million tons of grain to African countries despite all restrictions.

"I draw your attention to the fact that during the same time, despite all the restrictions and restrictions on the export of Russian grain, almost 12 million tons were sent from Russia to Africa," Putin underlined.

If Russia decides not to renew this deal after the recent 60-day extension, then it is ready to deliver all the volume that was sent in the previous time to countries in Africa in particular need free of charge, the president added.
Further elaborating on the topic of Russia-Africa cooperation, Putin invited the leaders of African countries to attend a summit in Russia in July, saying that preparations are underway.

"We are very seriously preparing for the second Russian-African summit and, of course, we will be glad to see leaders from all African countries, as well as heads of regional organizations, at this forum," the president said.

The second Russia-Africa Summit will be held in Saint Petersburg in July 2023. According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is the most important event on Moscow's agenda for the continent, and is expected to bring a whole new level of cooperation between the participating parties.
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