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Russia signs military deals with 40 African states, Putin says

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Russia signs military deals with 40 African states, Putin says

Last Updated on July 29, 2023 by Fellow Press

Russia has signed agreements for military cooperation with over 40 African countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday in St Petersburg.

“For the purposes of bolstering the defence capability of the continent’s countries, we are developing partnership in the military and military-technical spheres,” Putin said during the second and final day of the second Russia-Africa Summit.

“Russia has signed agreements on military-technical cooperation with
more than 40 African states, to which we supply a broad range of armaments and hardware.”

Putin stated that African states received a wide range of weapons and technology, some for free “with the aim of enhancing the security and sovereignty of the countries.”

Representatives from African countries have been invited to actively participate in Russian-organized military forums dealing with the technical aspects of the weapons and also manoeuvres to become familiar with the equipment and its use.

Putin reiterated that Russia would continue to be a reliable supplier of grain to the continent’s countries. The pledge came after Russia ended a deal that allowed Ukrainian grain to be exported through the Black Sea. Ukraine is a major supplier of grain to Africa.

The chairman of the African Union said in his closing address at the summit that Putin’s proposals to provide grain were insufficient.

“Yes, this is important, but it may not be quite enough. We need to achieve a ceasefire,” Azali Assoumani said.

“President Putin has shown us that he is ready to engage in dialogue and find a solution,” he added. “Now we need to convince the other side.”

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has warned that African countries will experience prolonged consequences after Russia suspended the Ukrainian grain deal.

“The impact of the war in Ukraine will almost certainly compound food insecurity in Africa for at least the next two years,” the ministry said in its daily update on Twitter on Friday.

The expired agreement previously enabled the transportation of 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain to other countries via the Black Sea.

Russia’s “blockade of Ukraine” has disrupted deliveries of essential food supplies to countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan, also leading to rising grain prices, the MoD statement read.

On Friday, the Russian president promised to provide Zimbabwe, Mali, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Eritrea and the Central African Republic with 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain for free in the next three to four months.

Russia is also aiming to expand its presence in Africa by opening new consulates and embassies and increasing staff in existing diplomatic representations. The nation has a surplus of available personnel after around 600 Russian representatives were forced to leave Western countries amid tensions, partly due to EU states’ suspicions of espionage.

After appeals for peace in Ukraine at the summit, Putin reiterated his willingness to negotiate over Ukraine.

“We have said several times, I have officially communicated, that we are ready for these negotiations,” he said.

However, Russia had no way of forcing either side into such talks, Putin asserted.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak criticised what he called the Russians’ “traditional negotiating whine.”

He said it “makes no sense” for the Ukraine currently to negotiate with Russia.

“If Moscow wants to negotiate, the path is clear. 1. Get out of Ukraine. 2. Change the political elite. 3. Admit war crimes. 4. Extradite the authors of the war to the tribunal,” Podolyak tweeted.

The West accuses Putin of not being seriously interested in negotiations, after he repeatedly denied Ukraine’s right to exist as a free, sovereign state in the past.

The United States, Germany and other NATO members have repeatedly called on Russia to withdraw troops from Ukraine as a precondition for negotiations. Moscow has rejected this.

Western countries criticized the Russia-Africa Summit as a “PR show” and as an attempt by Putin to make African countries even more dependent on Russia.

During the meetings with the African heads of state and government at the conference, Putin sought to demonstrate that he is not internationally isolated.

According to the Kremlin, 49 out of 54 countries on the continent are represented, with only 17 being heads of state or government, fewer than during the inaugural summit in 2019.

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Emmanuel Macron announces dissolution of National Assembly

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Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Fellow Press

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the dissolution of the National Assembly, following defeat of his party in 2024 European Parliament (EP) elections, according to local media report.

“I have decided to give you back the choice of your parliamentary future through the vote. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly,” Macron said in a short speech.

“This is a serious, weighty decision. But it is above all an act of trust,” he added.

He added that the elections to the National Assembly are to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.
Macron’s Renaissance party gained 15.2 per cent of the votes in 2024 European Parliament elections, far behind far-right National Rally who received 31.8 per cent.

“The unprecedented gap between the presidential majority and the leading opposition party reflects a stinging disavowal and rejection of the policies led by Emmanuel Macron,” RN President Jordan Bardella said after the EP elections results were unveiled, quoted by local media.

“We’re ready for it. I call on French people to join us in forming around the RN a majority in the service of the only cause that guides our steps: France.” parliamentary party leader of RN, Marine Le Pen, said Sunday evening on social media platform X.

The EP elections were held from June 6 to June 9, with voters of the 27 EU member states selecting 720 lawmakers to the 10th EP.

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UN adds Israel to blacklist

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Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Fellow Press

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has added Israel’s military to a global list of offenders that have committed violations against children, his spokesman confirmed on Friday.

Israel had been told it is being placed on the list in the secretary-general’s annual report on children in armed conflict, to be sent to the UN Security Council next Friday, Stephane Dujarric told a press briefing.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were also added to the list, according to a diplomatic source, along with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Dujarric added that the Israeli UN mission was called by Guterres’ chief of staff on Friday, a courtesy afforded to countries that are newly listed. “It is done to give those countries a heads-up and avoid leaks,” he said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan recorded a video of himself making a phone call from his office, apparently to a UN official, and leaked part of it on social media.

In the video, Erdan expressed outrage at the UN decision, calling the IDF “the most moral army in the world.”

“The only one who is blacklisted today is the secretary-general, whose decisions since the war started, and even before, are rewarding terrorists and incentivizing them to use children for terror acts… Shame on him!”

Dujarric said it was “shocking and unacceptable” that Erdan had apparently published the private call, saying it was “something he had never seen in my 24 years serving this organization.”

Israel’s inclusion on the list comes after eight months of war in Gaza, in which more than 15,500 children have been killed, according to the Ministry of Health in the enclave.

The war was sparked by a Hamas-led assault on Israel on October 7, which killed 1,200 people and saw some 250 others taken hostage. Many are still in captivity and Hamas’ top leadership is still at large despite the Israeli onslaught.

The UN’s so-called blacklist has previously included countries such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said the decision to add Israel to the list “will not bring back tens of thousands of our children who were killed by Israel over decades and will not restore normal life for the children who were permanently disabled by its actions.”

“But it is an important step in the right direction towards ending the double standards and the culture of impunity Israel has enjoyed for far too long and that left our children vulnerable to its consequences.”

The annual report will go to the Security Council on June 14. The official report will be published on June 18. It will be discussed at a debate in the council on June 26.

Asked about ramifications, the UN spokesman said it will be up to the members to decide any action.

The war has seen Israel-UN relations reach historic lows with Israeli diplomats using their platforms at the UN to denounce the world body.

Israel’s quarrel with the UN has gone beyond the secretary-general. Israeli officials have also criticized the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the World Health Organization, UN Women, and the UN’s Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese.

Meanwhile, dozens of UN staffers have been killed in Gaza since the conflict began, the largest loss in the world body’s history.

Israel has long accused UNRWA of anti-Israeli incitement, which UNRWA has repeatedly denied, and in 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to dismantle the UN body, saying it should be merged with the main UN refugee agency.

Since the October 7 attack, Israeli journalists and news outlets have refocused their attention on UNRWA and have amplified stories questioning its role in the war.

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