Putin touts strengthening Russian military ties with Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin touted strengthening military ties with Africa on Thursday at a Russian-hosted summit that he said brought together representatives from every African country.

Putin said this in a speech at the Russia-Africa Summit in Russia’s southern resort city of Sochi on the Black Sea.

Russia has signed military cooperation agreements with the majority of Africa’s countries – more than 30 of 54, Putin said.

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“The number of those [African countries] that want to join us continues to grow,” Putin said in the televised speech.

Russia, the world’s second-largest weaponry exporter behind the U.S is seeking to raise its power broker status in the Middle East and Africa.

“As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia intends to continue to actively participate in developing practical measures for peace and stability in Africa, ensuring regional security,” Putin said.

Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport announced this week that a third of its 55 billion dollar portfolio consisted of contracts with a group of 20 partners in Africa, Russian state media reported.

Next month, Russia plans to conduct trilateral naval exercises with South Africa and ally China near Cape Town.

The trio has been strengthening their ties in recent years as part of the BRICS group of emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.