Escobar: The Russia-Global South Connection - Africa As Strategic Partner

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Jul 29, 2023 - 03:30 AM

Authored by Pepe Escobar,

The second Russia-Africa summit, this week in St. Petersburg, should be seen as a milestone in terms of Global South integration and the concerted drive by the Global Majority towards a more equal and fair multipolar order.

The summit welcomes no less than 49 African delegations. President Putin previously announced that a comprehensive declaration and a Russia-Africa Partnership Forum Action Plan all the way to 2026 will be adopted.

Madaraka Nyerere, the son of Tanzania’s legendary anti-colonial activist and first President, Julius Nyerere, set the context, telling RT that the only “realistic” way for Africa to develop is to unite and stop being an agent for foreign exploitative powers.

And the path towards cooperation goes through BRICS – starting with the crucial upcoming summit in South Africa, and the incorporation of more African nations into BRICS+.

Nyerere’s father was a very important force behind the Organization of African Unity, which later became the African Union.

South Africa’s Julius Malema succinctly expanded the geoeconomic concept of a united Africa: “They [neocolonial powers] thrive on the division of the African continent. Can you imagine the minerals of the DRC combined with the minerals of South Africa, and with a new currency based on the minerals? What can we do to the dollar? If we become a United States of Africa, with our minerals alone, we can defeat the dollar.”

No humanitarian nature, no deal

The Russian-African Conference of the Valdai Club functioned like a sort of final expert watch synchronization in the run-up to St. Petersburg. The first session was particularly relevant.

That came after the publication of a comprehensive analysis by President Putin of Russia-Africa relations, with a special emphasis on the recently collapsed grain deal involving the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine.

Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Russian Federation Council, has stressed how “Ukraine, Washington and NATO were interested in the grain corridor for sabotage”.

In his Op-Ed, Putin explained how, “for almost a year, a total of 32.8 million tons of cargo were exported from Ukraine under the ‘deal’, of which more than 70% went to high-and above-middle-income countries, including the European Union, while countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, as well as Yemen and Afghanistan accounted for less than 3% of the total volume – less than one million tons.”

So that was one of the key reasons for Russia to leave the grain deal. Moscow published a list of requirements which would need to be fulfilled for Russia to reinstate it.

Among them: a real, practical end to sanctions on Russian grain and fertilizers shipped to world markets; no more obstacles for banks and financial institutions; no more restrictions on charter of ships and insurance – that means clean logistics for all food supplies; restoration of the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline.

And a particularly crucial item: the restoration of “the original humanitarian nature of the grain deal.”

There’s no way the collective West subjected to the Straussian neocon psychos who control US foreign policy will fulfill all or even some of these conditions.

So Russia, by itself, will offer grain and fertilizers free of charge for the poorest nations and contracts for grain supply at normal commercial terms for the others. Supply is guaranteed: Moscow had the biggest grain harvest ever during this season.

This is all about solidarity. At the Valdai session, a key discussion was around the importance of solidarity in the struggle against neo-colonialism and for global equality and justice.

Oleg Ozerov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and Head of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, stressed how European “former” partners persist on the one-way track of shifting blame to Russia as Africa is “acquiring agency” and “denying neo-colonialism.”

Ozerov mentioned how “France-Afrique is collapsing – and Russia is not behind it. Russia is ensuring that Africa acts as one of the powers of the multipolar world”, as “a member of the G20 and present in the UN Security Council.” Moreover, Moscow is interested to expand Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) free trade deals towards Africa.

Welcome to Global South “multi-vector” cooperation

This all spells out a common theme in the Russia-Africa summit: “multi-vector cooperation”. The South African perspective, especially in the light of the raging controversy over Putin’s non-physical presence in the BRICS summit, is that “Africans are not taking sides. They want peace.”

What matters is what Africa brings to BRICS: “Markets, and a young, educated population.”

On the Russian bridge to Africa, what is needed, for instance, is “railways along coastlines”: connectivity, which can be developed with Russian assistance, much as China has been investing widely across Africa under BRI projects. Russia, after all, “trained many professionals across Africa.”

There’s a wide consensus, to be reflected in the summit, that Africa is becoming an economic growth pole in the Global South – and African experts know it. State institutions are becoming more stable. The abysmal crisis in Russia-Western relations ended up boosting interest in Africa. No wonder that’s now a national priority for Russia.

So what can Russia offer? Essentially an investment portfolio, and crucially the idea of sovereignty – without requesting anything in return.

Mali is a fascinating case. It goes back to investments by the USSR training the workforce; at least 10,000 Malians, who were offered first-class education, including 80% of their professors.

That intersects with the terrorism threat of the Salafi-jihadi variety, “encouraged” by the usual suspects even before 9/11. Mali holds at least 350,000 refugees, all of them unemployed. France’s “initiatives” have been deemed “totally inefficient”.

Mali needs “broader measures” – including the launch of a new trading system. Russia after all taught how to set up infrastructure to create new jobs; time to fully profit from the knowledge of those trained in the USSR. Moreover, in 2023 over 100 students from Mali are coming to Russia on state-sponsored scholarships.

As Russia makes inroads in French-speaking Africa, former “partners”, predictably, demonize Mali’s cooperation with Russia. With no avail. Mali has just dropped French as its official language (that has been the case since 1960).

Under the new constitution, passed overwhelmingly with 96.9% in a June 15 referendum, French will be only a working language, while 13 national languages will also receive official language status.

Essentially, this is about sovereignty. Coupled with the fact that the West, as recognized from Mali to Ethiopia – the only African nation never colonized by Europeans – is losing moral authority across Africa at astonishing speed.

Multitudes in Africa now understand that Russia actively encourages freedom from neocolonialism. When it comes to geopolitical capital, Moscow now seems to enjoy all it takes to build a fruitful, Global Majority-centered strategic partnership.