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Moscow accuses U.S. of attempts to disrupt Russia-Africa relations

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The United States is “exerting unprecedented pressure” on African countries, including attempting to disrupt a planned Russia-Africa summit, Russia’s deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying late on Saturday.

President Vladimir Putin will host the second Russia-Africa summit in July in St. Petersburg, an event intended to underline his attempts to curry favor in African nations after being shunned by the West over his invasion in Ukraine a year ago.

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Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, quoted by the state TASS agency reiterated Moscow’s accusations of the “collective West” staging a campaign to isolate Moscow.

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“The United States and its allies are conducting an unprecedented campaign for the political and economic isolation of Russia, including the disruption of the Russian-Africa second summit in St. Petersburg,” Bogdanov told TASS.

Moscow calls its invasion of Ukraine not a war, but a “special military operation.” Kyiv and its Western allies say its an imperialistic act of aggression to seize land.

“Since the beginning of the special military operation, the collective West has significantly increased pressure on African countries – through threats of imposing sanctions, termination of financial and humanitarian aid,” Bogdanov said.

Since the start of the war, which has killed thousands and displace millions, Moscow has turned to China, India – and African nations, trying to seek closer ties there.

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Russia has been particularly keen to win over African nations — Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has visited the continent twice this year already, in addition to a tour mid-last year.

South Africa has been holding 10 days of military exercises with the Russian and Chinese militaries. And the Wagner group of Russian mercenaries has been deployed against insurgents in Mali and Central Africa.

U.S. President Joe Biden hosted a U.S.-Africa leaders summit in 2022 in Washington, seeking to bolster alliances amid the growing Russian and Chinese presence on the continent.

Bogdanov said, without providing evidence, that Washington has been making “fabrications” against Moscow, accusing Russia of trying to starve the continent or rise fuel prices.

The West has imposed several waves of sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, and so has the European Union, with Brussels adopted fresh punitive measures on Saturday. (Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Ron Popeski in Winnipeg; Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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