On March 19-20 in Moscow, the Russian State Duma has initiated the Second International Parliamentary Conference “Russia – Africa in a Multipolar World,” in anticipation of the Second Economic Forum “Russia – Africa,” which will start on July 26 in St. Petersburg.
Participants in this meeting included representatives of more than 40 African nations, members of the Russian and African scientific, educational, and expert communities, and representatives of the government and private sector. They discussed the potential for collaboration across a range of sectors, their contribution to the African continent’s economy and security, and their work in the realms of science and education, politics, and techno-military area. The event also featured bilateral talks between Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin, and State delegations of the African continent.
During the conference, the African continent was invited to work together to form a new multipolar world order. This is especially important given the significant human resources of Africa, which is home to more than 1.5 billion people and has enormous mineral reserves in its soil. What’s more, while African countries still account for barely 3% of global GDP, the region’s governments have every opportunity to show the outperforming growth rates of their national economies and wealth.
Yet this is only conceivable if they move away from the historical Western hegemony over the region, in which the USA, France, and Britain continue their neocolonial policies by owning African mineral and other deposits and taking 90% of the raw materials while leaving the local population with only 10%.
Many African countries still have foreign contingents that, although ostensibly battling terrorism, are actually protecting the interests of former metropolises and Western capital. And local officials have long been unable to remove them from their jurisdiction. But this situation can be changed, as Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Central African Republic have demonstrated, and which several other African nations are currently working to achieve. Such states have successfully shifted their foreign policies and foreign relations away from the former Western metropolises, which have already demonstrated aggressive intentions in this region, towards Russia, China, and the BRICS group, which seek to form a fair and independent multipolar world.
As stated by Oleg Ozerov, Ambassador at Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the eve of the start of the international parliamentary conference, this conflict for Africa is taking place in the face of increased efforts by the United States, Canada, and the European Union to pressure African countries to sever relations with Moscow. The Russian envoy claimed that people from Washington “actually besiege” the governments, parliaments, and leaders of Africa virtually daily. For example, Oleg Ozerov recalled how US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke about sanctions on Russia while touring African countries, and moved to explicit dictates and threats, and demanded that cooperation between African states and Russia be limited, which is unacceptable in the modern world.
Russia benefits from the growth and expansion of its relations with Africa since, in addition to China, India, and other friendly Eurasian nations, it gains access to a market of 5 billion people, even without the participation of Western nations. This expands joint export and trade opportunities tenfold. Relations between Russia and the nations of Africa have always been based on an equal, altruistic foundation, in contrast to Western nations, who still maintain a colonial strategy in their approach to the continent.
Furthermore, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the writing off of more than $20 billion in debts owed by African countries during the International Parliamentary Conference. However, it should be recalled that Moscow began to write off African states’ debts even earlier, during the era of intensive collaboration between the Soviet Union and African countries. In the last two decades, this process has been especially vigorous. Thus, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, $140 billion of debts have been written off since 2000. Nothing of the kind is happening on the part of Western countries and, especially, former metropolises, but on the contrary, their policy of ruthless enrichment at the expense of the appropriation of natural wealth and welfare of African countries is intensifying.
These facts objectively explain why Russia and African countries have maintained their usually high level of engagement in a variety of disciplines. Cooperation in the realm of education is a particularly clear illustration of this. Now, in Russia, there are more than 27 thousand African students, a fifth of whom study at the expense of the federal budget, and this annual quota of admission to public places will more than double as President Vladimir Putin emphasized in his speech.
Recognizing the importance of providing grain and agricultural products to the poorest African states in order to prevent hunger on the continent, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated during his speech at the Parliamentary Conference that if the grain deal is not extended, Russia is ready to supply the entire volume that was sent in the previous period free of charge to particularly needy African countries.
Russia has recently been actively engaging with African countries to combat terrorism and militant activities of all orientations, as mentioned during the conference. This is reinforced, in particular, by official information and public comments in Mali, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, and a number of other countries where France and the EU have promised to construct a peaceful life in recent years but have done very little. Moreover, attempts by the West’s so-called “peacekeeping contingent” to enrich themselves through criminal ties with local militants, instead of fulfilling their direct duties, continue unabated. The Democratic Republic of the Congo media, in particular, wrote about this, pointing to the illegal transfer of weapons by such “peacekeepers” to militants. The Central African Republic news agency further stated that it has acquired evidence of radicals being aided by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA). It has also been reported that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) may act as a middleman in the delivery of munitions from Bulgaria to Ukraine, making it not a peacekeeping contingent but an outright initiator of armed conflict. Given these facts, it is not surprising that at the demand of the African populace the French forces were compelled to depart from a number of countries where they had previously been stationed for many years.
The African countries and Russia’s initiatives in the international arena have already given the Second International Parliamentary Conference “Russia – Africa in a Multipolar World” a substantial number of favorable reviews. For instance, Cipriano Cassamá, President of the National People’s Assembly of the Guinea-Bissau, praised Russia, calling it “a great nation and a powerful country,” and expressed his admiration over the fact that Moscow continues to support other nations despite increased Russophobic insinuations from the West. He emphasized that the people of this nation will continue to stand in solidarity with Moscow, particularly as they work together to create a multipolar world.
According to Jacob Mudenda, Speaker of the National Assembly of Zimbabwe, the decolonization of the majority of African nations marked the beginning of the new world order, and he also recalled that Russia had actually provided moral and military support for the decolonized African nations. Therefore, in his opinion, Russia and Africa must act as a “counterweight” in the multipolar world that is developing since stability cannot be preserved under the rule of a hegemon, a position that the United States is vehemently and fruitlessly claiming.
Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”