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Russia writes off more than $20 billion in African debt as it tries to warm its way back into the African continent

President Vladmir Putin. (Twitter)
  • On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin made the announcement during the opening of the first Russia-Africa summit.
  • The debt was accumulated by African countries during the Soviet era.
  • Putin also expressed hope that Russia will at least double its trade with the African countries going forward.

To warm its way back into the African continent, Russia has written off more than $20 billion in African debt.

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On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would be writing off the debt accumulated by African countries during the Soviet era.

“It was not only an act of generosity but also a manifestation of pragmatism, because many of the African states were not able to pay interest on these loans,” Putin told Russian news agency,TASS on the eve of the summit.

While addressing the Russia-Africa forum in Sochi, President Putin promised African heads of states in attendance a “no-strings-attached business and protection from Western pressure”. 

Moscow was a crucial player in Africa in the Soviet era, backing independence movements and training a generation of African leaders. Its ties with Africa, however, declined with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Putin also expressed hope that Russia will at least double its trade with the African countries going forward.

 “We currently export to Africa US$25 billion worth of food — which is more than we export in arms, at $15 billion,” he said.

Besides hoping to improve cooperation in trade and technologies, Putin reportedly also pledged Russian commitment to combat the Ebola virus in Africa. 

The Russian President who has been in power for 20 years said his country is ready to help with aid and with the training of African cadres by Russian universities.

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