After several consistent criticisms of Russia’s inability to deliver on its promises and pledges, at least there are a few positive signs of stepping away from the previous approach and methods of diplomacy with African countries.
In some ways, Russia’s possibilities forging cooperation are overestimated both publicly and in closed negotiations. The supply of Russian-made vaccines to Africa is an example, especially during the critical times of the coronavirus pandemic that rapidly spread worldwide from December 2019.
Local Russian media this month awashed with the news that Russian Emergency Situations Ministry despatched Sputnik Light vaccines to Djibouti, East Africa.
According the media reports, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry has delivered 100,000 doses of the Sputnik Light coronavirus vaccines, described as humanitarian shipment, to Djibouti.
“A special flight of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry delivered humanitarian aid – 100,000 doses of the Sputnik Light vaccine for the prevention of novel coronavirus caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus, as well as 100,000 disposable syringes – to the population of the Republic of Djibouti on December 20,” the Ministry’s press service said.
“The delivery was made on the orders from the Russian government, at the request of the Republic of Djibouti,” it said.
A ‘Situation Analytical Report’ presented publicly in November 2021 and prepared by 25 Russian policy experts headed by Sergei A. Karaganov, the Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy was very critical about Russian officials failure in honouring pledges and promises down the years.
According to that report, for example, having concluded contracts for the supply of Sputnik V to a number of African countries, Russian suppliers failed during the critical times to meet contractual obligations. However, Sputnik V was registered in some 32 African countries. Russia has simply promised African countries, and those 300 million doses yet to be delivered through the African Union (AU).
The policy report said in part that there are little substantive and definitive results from all previous and frequently held bilateral meetings, except for demonstrating intensification of political contacts which have not been transformed into aspects of economic diplomacy.
It further questioned Russia’s current policy towards Africa and even claimed that there was no consistent policy and/or consistency in the policy implementation over the past several years.
Despite the growth of external players’ influence and presence in Africa, says the report, Russia has to necessarily redefine its policy parameters. The joint declaration adopted at the first summit has to raise the African agenda of Russia’s foreign policy to a new level as it remains the main guiding document determining the conceptual framework for cooperation with Africa.