Moscow has written off more than $20 billion in debt accumulated by African countries during the Soviet era, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday.
“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 TASS on the eve of the summit.
While addressing the Russia-Africa forum in Sochi, he called for trade between Russia and African countries to be doubled in the next four to five years.
Putin also said that Russia intends to increase its presence in Africa at the state level.
Moscow was a crucial player in Africa in the Soviet era, backing independence movements and training a generation of African leaders.
But its ties with Africa declined with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and in recent years China has emerged as a top foreign power on the continent, forcing Russia to play catch-up.