Russia — a major defense partner and arms supplier to African countries — has recently stepped up a drive to gain more influence in and restore its Soviet-era ties with the resource-rich continent.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin hosted dozens of African leaders in the first-ever African summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Some 43 head of states or governments and dozens of business and community leaders were warmly welcomed at the two-day summit, which, Putin said, “opened up a new page in the history of Russia’s relations with African countries.”
Addressing the summit on Thursday, Putin said Russia had “supported the struggle of the peoples of Africa against colonialism, racism and apartheid.”
He told the attendees that his government “has signed military-technical cooperation agreements with more than 30 countries, where we supply a large array of weaponry and hardware.”
“Part of these supplies are done on a free-of-charge basis,” he added.
Moscow agreed to sell the African states military helicopters, fighter jets and armored vehicles as well.
The country will supply $4 billion worth of weaponry by the end of this year alone, and $14 billion more in the coming years, the authorities announced on Wednesday.
They also unveiled plans to double trade with the continent to $40 billion.
In a symbolic move, Russia also landed two nuclear capable bombers in South Africa on a first-ever training mission.