Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that he gave "priority" to relations with African countries, as Moscow was looking for new partners to face international sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.
"I want to emphasize that our country has always given and will continue to give priority to cooperation with African states," Putin said in Moscow during a speech to African representatives.
"Our country is determined to continue building a full strategic partnership with our African friends, and we are ready to shape the global agenda together," the Russian president continued.
Mr. Putin believed that Russia, like Africa, "defends traditional moral values" by "resisting the neo-colonial ideology imposed from abroad". He also promised to supply "the neediest countries in Africa" with cereals if the important agreement on Ukrainian exports was not renewed in two months.
According to Mr. Putin, Russia plans to increase cooperation with African countries in the field of energy, and medicine and to double the quotas of African students in Russian universities.
Against the backdrop of Western sanctions linked to its offensive in Ukraine, Moscow is currently seeking support in Asia and Africa, where many states have not openly condemned the Russian military intervention.
Russia had already multiplied initiatives on the African continent in recent years, aimed at posing as an alternative to the former colonial powers.
It signed numerous economic and military partnerships there and the Russian paramilitary group Wagner established itself in several countries, notably in the Central African Republic, where it contributed to eroding French influence.
The next Russia-Africa summit, the second of its kind, is due to be held July 26-29 in St. Petersburg. Mr. Putin assured Monday to prepare "very seriously" for this meeting and invited African leaders and regional organizations to take part.
At the first summit of its kind, in 2019, Vladimir Putin was pleased to have "opened a new page" of relations with Africa, a continent from which Russia had largely withdrawn after the fall of the USSR.
This meeting saw the presence of representatives from 54 African countries, including 43 heads of state. The joint statement adopted at its conclusion denounced in particular "political diktats and monetary blackmail".