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Russia-Africa: what Sergei Lavrov told the AU “troika”

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Tuesday, 14 July 2020 15:36

Sergei Lavrov, here in June 2020 in Belgrade, spoke at a distance with his South African, Egyptian and Congolese counterparts. Darko Vojinovic/AP/SIPA

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke with his South African, Egyptian and Congolese counterparts from a distance. On the menu: Russia-Africa summit, trade relations and coronavirus.

On July 8, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks via videoconference with three of his counterparts: South African Naledi Pandor, Egyptian Sameh Choukry and Congo’s Marie Ntumba Nzeza, whose countries form the African Union “troika”.

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On the menu for their discussion was the roadmap for the second Russia-Africa summit, which will take place in 2022 in Africa.

The summit is being organized by the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, which Oleg Ozerov, former number two in the Africa Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID), has been leading since 18 May.

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Covid-19 and nuclear

Three Russian officials joined the videoconference: Anton Simanovski, the deputy director of the public health agency Rospotrebnadzor; Alexei Likhatchev, the director general of Rosatom, the nuclear giant; and Alexei Grouzdev, the deputy minister of Industry and Trade.

The presence of Simanovski is in response to the concern of African countries that the coronavirus pandemic may hit them harder in the coming months.

  • More than 30 countries across the continent have asked Moscow for assistance

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The presence of Likhatchev and Grouzdev, meanwhile, illustrates Russia’s desire to strengthen its energy cooperation with the continent in oil and nuclear energy.

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Pro-African line

Russia’s MID intends to play a key role in the development of trade relations with the continent.

  • It now coordinates the actions of the “Economic Cooperation Association with African Countries”.
  • Created in June, this association includes Russian groups such as Alrosa (diamond mining), Rosatom, Transmashholding (train construction), as well as Gazprombank and the Innopraktika development institute.

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Sergei Lavrov explained to his interlocutors the Kremlin’s diplomatic line with regard to the continent: “any African problem must find an African solution”.

Advocating the sovereignty of states and castigating the neo-colonialism of the West, he stressed that Russia was campaigning for an African to be appointed to the post of UN special envoy to Libya, which has been vacant since the resignation of Ghassan Salame in March.

 

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