In Sochi, about forty African heads of state are received by Vladimir Putin for a summit dominated Wednesday, October 24 by the economy. This Thursday, political and diplomatic issues resume their rights.
With our special correspondent in Sochi, Daniel Vallot
In the morning, the first plenary session of this Russia-Africa summit will bring the subject to the fore . Each of the 43 leaders will speak for a few minutes.
Then, in the afternoon, there will be a second plenary session, and finally a declaration to conclude this summit and in parallel a series of bilateral talks. Vladimir Putin will meet the leaders of Algeria from Kenya, Angola, Guinea and Rwanda.
The goal will once again be for Vladimir Putin to strengthen the Russian presence on the continent. The Russian president has met with many African leaders in recent years, but he has rarely visited sub-Saharan Africa and only South Africa.
Need to find " new friends "
And if we look at the program of bilateral talks, the Russian president has obviously made the point of meeting the leaders of countries he is already close to, and which already serve as points of support on the continent, like from Egypt or Algeria.
Vladimir Putin will still meet leaders of countries that are not necessarily very close to Russia. In particular, he wants to expand his sphere of influence, and not rely solely on his traditional relays. He needs it all the more because he has lost his last years several of his most faithful allies, like Omar al-Bashir in Sudan, or Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria.
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Russia is also worried about the retirement of the last generation of Soviet-trained African leaders, who had thus developed very important ties with Moscow. In short, Vladimir Putin seeks to make " new friends " on the continent. This is one of the major objectives of this Russia-Africa summit for the Russian president.