Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed dozens of African leaders to St Petersburg for the first-ever Russia-Africa summit, a two-day event aimed at strengthening ties and boosting cooperation.
Putin said Russia was ready to offer its help in solving the continent’s problems, such as food security, infrastructure development, health care and education.
He also said Russia was interested in expanding its trade and investment with Africa, which he called “one of the key partners of our country”.
The summit, which is co-chaired by Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current chairperson of the African Union, has attracted more than 40 heads of state and government, as well as representatives of regional and international organizations.
Among the topics on the agenda are security, energy, mining, nuclear technology and climate change.
The summit also comes amid rising tensions between Russia and the West over the war in Ukraine.
Putin said Russia was not seeking to compete with other powers for influence in Africa, but rather to offer “mutually beneficial projects”.
He also praised the African countries for their “principled” stance on the Ukrainian crisis, saying they supported a peaceful resolution based on international law.
The summit is seen as a sign of Russia’s renewed interest in Africa, where it has historical ties dating back to the Soviet era.