Putin looks to up Russian influence in Africa


President Vladimir Putin stepped up Russia’s push for influence in Africa days before he hosts a summit with African leaders, saying Moscow can offer help without political conditions unlike what he cast as the exploitative West.

The Kremlin expects 47 African leaders to converge on the Black Sea city Sochi for the October 23-24 event, Moscow’s first Russia-Africa summit and part of an ambitious push for influence and business in Africa.

Putin gave the clearest idea yet of his pitch to African countries, warning of rising competition over Africa and accusing the West of intimidating African countries to exploit their resources.

“We see how an array of Western countries resort to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments,” Putin said in an interview with TASS news agency.

He did not name specific countries, but said he was referring to countries that used to be colonial powers.

“They are using such methods to return lost influence and dominance in former colonies in a new guise and rushing to pump out maximum profits and to exploit the continent,” he said.

By contrast, Putin said Russia was ready to offer aid without “political or other conditions” and embrace the principle of African solutions for African problems.

Moscow’s relations with Africa were on the up, he added, pointing to military technical co-operation agreements with more than 30 African countries it supplies arms to.