Russian President Vladimir Putin says this week’s Russia-Africa Summit represents “a starting point for building fair partnerships based on equality and mutual practical interest, blasting the West of “intimidating African countries to exploit their resources.”
Putin said Moscow’s offer to help the continent is without political conditions, unlike what he cast as the “exploitative” approach of the West.
“We see how an array of Western countries are resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments,” Putin told Russia’s TASS news agency.
Russia and African states have traditionally enjoyed friendly and time-tested relations, the Russian president noted.
“Our country has played a significant role in the liberation of the continent, supporting the struggle of its peoples against colonialism, racism and apartheid.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, said meanwhile that the United States has launched a smear campaign with the goal of discrediting Moscow’s policy in Africa.
“There is such an impression that representatives of certain agencies in Washington have been making desperate attempts, using mass media and NGOs, to discredit Russia’s policy in Africa,” Maria Zakharova said.
They (the West) are also promoting the idea that Moscow is seeking to create an anti-Western front in order to cast a slur on a positive role of the US and its allies, the diplomat noted.
“News agencies, mass media outlets and the so-called experts as usual blame Moscow for all sins, now [doing so] also in connection with the African continent — from backing ‘wrong regimes’ by supplying weapons and military equipment to meddling in elections, corrupt ties and so on,” Zakharova said.
“The number of such publications ahead of the Russia-Africa Summit has been unprecedented,” she pointed out.
Zakharova added that these “gross attempts of manipulating public opinion clearly signal Washington’s fears that the Russia-Africa Summit would strengthen trade and economic, political and diplomatic ties between Moscow and these countries, including with those, which Washington considers as its backyard.”
“It’s time to recognize that neo-colonial approaches and attempts to impose one’s will on sovereign states are rejected by the absolute majority of the world community’s members,” Zakharova stressed.
“African states call for a multipolar system of international relations and can define their future themselves,” she noted.
Russia is convinced that such fake news cannot shatter the solid foundation of Russian-African cooperation, which is mutually beneficial and built on the basis of international law and with respect for each other, Zakharova emphasized.
“Today, the development and strengthening of mutually beneficial ties with African countries and their integration associations is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities,” Putin underlined.
Speaking ahead of his departure for the Summit in the Black Sea city of Sochi, President Ramaphosa said: “Bilateral relations between the Republic of South Africa and the Russian Federation are at optimal level and continue to grow from strength to strength.”
The Kremlin has said it expects 47 African leaders to converge in Sochi for the 23-24 October event.
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