By Fidel Amakye Owusu

1. Last week, when news broke that President Putin will be absent from the BRICS meeting in South Africa, headlines attributed it to the ICC arrest warrant.
2. They were right; however, I had concentrated more on the economic ramifications for South Africa should Putin attend the conference without his arrest. Yes, South Africa’s economy is more tied to the West than it is to Russia, irrespective of Pretoria’s closeness with Moscow.
3. South Africa simply chose its economy over a diplomatic show-off. In the end, it was an agreement between the two states for Putin to stay away. Unless a “surprise” is pulled, Putin will not attend the summit.
4. And so what?
5. Announcement that Russia’s second summit with African leaders just after the South African “no-show” had meant that putting was going to get busy before the BRICS confab.
9. However, unlike the first Russia-Africa summit, it appears many African leaders have mostly shunned St Petersburg this time. Only 17 heads of state showed up. Others sent their Prime Ministers. Many sent low-level delegations.
10. Essentially, the post-Ukraine invasion has dwindled Russia’s diplomatic “clout” in Africa. Most of the heads of state who went to St. Petersburg maintained neutrality in the war. Also, it came at a time when Russia had exited the grain deal which allowed the transport of grain from Black Sea ports.
11. Although the presence at this year’s summit was significantly low, Russia seemed to have made a couple of statements with it.
12. What?
13. Firstly, its decision to give free food to six states in the continent was significant. Putin announced that Burkina Faso, Mali, Eritrea, Central African Republic and Zimbabwe will be given food.
14. Vividly, this was to separate his real friends from the ambivalent ones. All these states are significantly close to Moscow. It is either security cooperation or some exclusive economic access. Also, he sought to turn African states against Ukraine by appearing more humanitarian—considering these states are also poor.
15. Again, with Prigozhin meeting some leaders and giving assurance of security cooperation, Putin seemed to send a message that he is still firmly in control despite the June 24 mutiny.
16. Furthermore, while it could be too early to make a bold statement, the coup in Niger (a day before the summit) and Prigozhin’s offer to provide security to the country are quite intriguing. While many wait to see the early overtures by the junta to foreign actors, there are examples in the region to predict possible outcomes.
17. In the end Putin made statements with the summit. Some could be consequential.

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

To view the original article by Fidel Amakye Owusu on LinkedIn visit here

We hope you enjoyed the article, there will be more regular weekly articles from Fidel Amakye Owusu coming soon.