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HomeNewsAfricans express condolences with Moscow, hope for increased economic cooperation

Africans express condolences with Moscow, hope for increased economic cooperation

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By Kestér Kenn KLOMEGÂH 

Russia is never isolated as many external countries think. It has non-Western friends, especially in Africa which constitutes part of the Global South. And there is a growing political sentiments and understanding among majority of its African allies that the United States and members of the European Union and Ukraine are allegedly behind the terrorist attacks against Russia due to its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.

There have been so many interpretations and analysis around the world. Russians were understandably shocked and saddened by the unexpected heinous attack. Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the incident a terrorist attack, and expressed Washington’s failure to share information on the threat of a terrorist attack in Moscow. The Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS-KP or ISIS-K), a South-Central Asia-based regional affiliate of the Islamic State, claimed responsibility. But, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said at a weekly media briefing with reporters that it was “extremely hard to believe” that Islamic State would have had the capacity to launch an attack on a Moscow concert hall on March 22 that killed, at least, 140 people.

Popularly referred to as Crocus City Hall, it is a music venue located in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast (north-west of central Moscow, close to the Moscow Ring Road). The venue was opened by the businessman Aras Agalarov on 25 October 2009. On 22 March 2024, it was severely damaged by an explosion during a major terrorist attack that killed more than 140 people. Since March 22, African leaders have poured in message of condolences to the Russian leadership and the entire Russian people.

The concert hall is a part of Crocus City, comprising the Crocus City Mall, Crocus Expo and Vegas City Hall, along with various hotels and restaurants.  It is one of the largest in the area. It is part of a larger block of shopping centers, restaurants, and other attractions called Crocus City.

President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, on March 28 expressed his deep condolences and feelings of solidarity over the terrorist attack in Moscow. Beside that however, both leaders also expressed satisfaction with the current level of strategic partnership between their countries and further discussed issues of practical trade, economic, energy and humanitarian cooperation.

Speaking in the context of the BRICS Chairmanship, which Russia has taken over since January 2024 from South Africa, they discussed interaction within the group in its new expanded format. Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined BRICS as new full members which is a strong indication of the growing authority of the association and its role in international affairs.

In light of the peace initiative advanced by African states to resolve the Ukraine crisis, Ramaphosa briefed Vladimir Putin on South Africa’s intention to continue working in this area with due regard for Russia’s legitimate interests. Putin, in turn, outlined Russia’s position of principle on developments around Ukraine, noting that Russia had always been open to a serious and substantive discussion of a political and diplomatic settlement of the conflict.

With President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, congratulated Vladimir Putin on his re-election as President of the Russian Federation, noting his great personal contribution to strengthening friendly relations between Russia and Egypt. In January 2024, Egypt became a full-fledged member of BRICS, always described as an informal association of emerging economies.

It was noted with satisfaction that the multifaceted cooperation between the countries is successfully developing as a strategic partnership, with major mutually beneficial projects underway in various spheres. Current issues on the international agenda were considered, including the situation around Ukraine and in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone. Vladimir Putin praised Cairo’s efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier, on March 26, President of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland of the Republic of Niger, Abdourahamane Tchiani, extended his warm solidarity with the Russian people and heartfelt condolences over the numerous victims of the heinous terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall.

In discussing the bilateral agenda, the leaders expressed determination to step up political dialogue and develop mutually beneficial cooperation in various spheres. They also exchanged views on the developments in the Sahel-Sahara region with an emphasis on coordination of security and counterterrorism efforts.

Late March, President Putin, has also held phone conversations with President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso and with Interim President of the Republic of Mali Assimi Goïta at their initiative. Both African leaders resolutely condemned the terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall concert venue and offered his deep condolences to the people of Russia.

On his part, Putin reassured to strengthen Russia-Mali ties in various fields, including the implementation of joint projects in energy, agriculture, and mining sector. Assimi Goïta expressed special gratitude for the deliveries of Russian wheat, fertiliser, and fuel, free of charge. Putin and Goïta also exchanged opinions in the context of the uneasy situation in the Sahara-Sahel region, and agreed to step up practical interaction to counter terrorism.

With Congolese DenisSassou-Nguesso, who expressed his deep condolences and solidarity with the Russian Federation in connection with the barbaric terrorist attack, Putin reassured him of the implementation of agreements reached following their meeting at the St. Petersburg’s Russia–Africa Summit in July 2023.

According to the official transcript, Malian Assimi Goïta and Congolese Sassou-Nguesso, did not congratulate President Vladimir Putin for the successful re-election mid-March, but the Kremlin said the leaders by phone agreed to continue their contacts.

From the historical records, March 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the Republic of the Congo. In this context, the presidents reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the further development of active bilateral interaction in the political, trade and economic, cultural, humanitarian, and other areas.

Congo, with an estimated 5.3 million population and the fourth largest oil producer in the Gulf of Guinea, is located in the central-western part of sub-Saharan Africa, along the Equator. Mali, now under military rule, is soliciting Russia’s military assistance for ensuring peace and security in the Saharan-Sahel region. Mali, home to nearly 20 million people, is a landlocked country located on rivers Senegal and Niger in West Africa.

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