Africa defiant amid Western pressure to snub Moscow – diplomat
Western countries have tried to strong-arm African nations into skipping a major summit with Russia set to begin later this week in St. Petersburg but have failed in their efforts, Moscow’s ambassador-at-large Oleg Ozerov has said.
In an interview with RIA Novosti released on Tuesday, Ozerov, who is also the chair of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum Secretariat, accused the West of piling up “permanent” pressure on Africa in a bid to drive a wedge between the continent and Moscow.
He claimed that Western diplomats were “literally discouraging African states from traveling to Russia on a daily basis, bluntly demanding that African countries choose a camp – ‘either you are with us or you are against us.’” Besides applying pressure via diplomatic channels, the US and the EU have tried to use their financial leverage, making further assistance contingent on whether African countries attend the summit or not, he added.
However, we don’t see African countries following this position of dictate… It is now evident that the Western bloc is struggling to bend all the nations to its position for objective reasons.
Ozerov also provided a glimpse of the summit’s extensive agenda which will include the signing of dozens of bilateral documents and a “very solid package of agreements.” Those will include a general political declaration, a Joint Action Plan for 2023-2026, and three sectoral agreements on counter-terrorism, non-deployment of weapons in space, and international security.
The diplomat also noted that Moscow would discuss establishing routes for the delivery of Russian grain and fertilizers to Africa. The relevant discussions will take place after Moscow withdrew from the UN- and Türkiye-mediated grain deal last week, citing the West’s failure to lift sanctions hindering its agricultural exports.
Ozerov’s comments come after the Financial Times reported on Friday that African leaders “are coming under US pressure” not to travel to the summit and condemn Russia for terminating the grain deal which was crucial to alleviating food security issues on the continent.
Despite those apparent efforts, Moscow officials have said that a total of 49 delegations had already confirmed that they would attend the summit. The Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum is set to take place in St. Petersburg on July 27 and 28.