Free weapons, forgiven $20 bn debt: Putin luring African countries?

On October 23-24, the city of Sochi is hosting the Russia-Africa Summit. It is co-chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s head of state Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

About 40 African leaders, 11 prime ministers and ambassadors are taking part in the event.

At Wednesday’s plenary session, Vladimir Putin said that Moscow had written off over $20 bn of African countries’ debts to the Russian Federation. According to him, Moscow consistently supports the development of the African continent.

“We provide trade preferences, cooperate within the framework of international structures, for example, through the World Food Program, International Civil Defense Organization and World Health Organization. Our country participates in the initiative on African countries’ debt relief. As of now, the total amount of debt relief exceeds $20 bln,” state-run news agency TASS quotes Putin.

The Russian leader also hopes for wider military-technical cooperation with African countries.

“In order to strengthen the combat readiness of the African countries’ national armed forces, cooperation is underway in the military and military-technical fields. Russia has active agreements on military-technical cooperation with more than 30 countries, to which we supply a wide range of weapons and equipment,” Putin said.

Part of such supplies were being provided ‘on a gratuitous basis’, he stressed.

The Russian President also announced ‘going ahead with the training of military and law enforcement personnel from African countries at Russia’s special educational establishments.

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