A State Department spokesperson conveyed their skepticism, stating that there were no signs of Russia making meaningful commitments at the summit or intending to follow through on any promises.
The summit, which was attended by 17 African heads of state in St. Petersburg, saw Russia offering free grain to six of Africa’s poorest countries and discussing debt relief, but concerns were raised about Russia’s conflicting actions in Africa.
Russia’s involvement in Africa has been met with mixed reactions, as it both offers aid and support while also engaging in actions that raise concerns.
Kenya’s President did not attend the summit after Russia halted Ukrainian grain exports, which was seen as a blow to global food security.
Additionally, Russia’s drones bombed Ukrainian grain silos, destroying a significant amount of grain.
Analysts have noted that despite previous promises made by Russia at similar summits, little progress has been seen in materializing deals or increased trade and investment.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa faced criticism for discussing closer military ties with Russia while simultaneously leading an African peace initiative for Ukraine.
The move was deemed hypocritical by opposition parties. The situation raised further concerns when a sanctioned Russian cargo ship docked at a naval base near Cape Town, leading to allegations of South Africa supplying arms to Russia.
U.S. officials expressed unease at the relationship between South Africa and Russia and questioned whether it may impact trade preferences and development assistance under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.