MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin told the BRICS summit in South Africa on Thursday that Moscow intends to deepen ties with African countries, and that it would remain a reliable partner for food and fuel supplies.
In a video link address, Putin said Russia was interested in developing “multi-faceted ties” with Africa, which has been roiled by fuel and food price rises resulting from the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia’s July exit from the Black Sea grain deal has seen grain prices soar, hitting many African countries very hard. Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s biggest grain exporters.
In his remarks, Putin also said Russia had more than 30 energy projects in African countries, adding that Russian fuel supplies would help African governments to contain price rises.
“Over the past two years, exports to Africa of Russian crude oil, petroleum products and liquefied natural gas have increased by 2.6 times,” he said.
Putin added that the global transition to a greener, low carbon emissions economy would have to be “gradual, balanced, carefully calibrated”, given projections for further growth in the world’s population and energy demand.
Russia is keen to build up the BRICS group – which currently comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – into a more influential bloc able to challenge Western domination of the global economy.
At its three-day summit in Johannesburg this week, the BRICS leaders agreed to invite six more countries – Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – to join the bloc.
In his remarks on Thursday, Putin took aim at former colonial Western powers and their espousal of what he called “neo-liberalism”, which he said posed a threat to both traditional values in developing countries and to the emergence of a multi-polar world where no one country or bloc dominated.
(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Felix Light; Editing by Gareth Jones)