Brazzaville, 25 July 2022 (TDI): Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the Republic of Congo on the country’s African tour aimed at strengthening Moscow’s ties with a continent that has refused to join Western condemnation and sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The visit

The Russian official has arrived to hold face-to-face talks with President Denis Sassou Nguesso. The Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Congo Jean-Claude Gakosso also welcomed him.

Lavrov will hold a joint news conference with his Congolese counterpart, Russia’s foreign ministry said.

In a statement, Lavrov’s spokesperson said this was the first visit by a Russian or Soviet foreign affairs minister to the country. She said friendly ties dated back to the Soviet era and that 8,000 Republic of Congo’s citizens had studied in Russia.

Ahead of the visit, Lavrov also expressed in an interview that Russia has “long-standing good relations with Africa since the days of the Soviet Union.”

He has also lauded Russia’s role in decolonizing Africa, remarking, “we provided assistance to the national liberation movement, and then to the restoration of independent states, and the rise of their economies.”

Russian tour of Africa

Until now, Lavrov has held talks with President Abdel Fattah el Sissi and his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shukry. He has also met with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit before addressing the pan-Arab organization.

Lavrov will also later travel to Uganda and Ethiopia on his Africa tour. The tour is designed to shore up support for Russia on the international stage.

Russia is tilting the balance in its favor. Western powers have blamed Russia for the food crisis, and last week the U.S. announced a $1.3 billion package to help tackle hunger in the region. However, Russia blames the Western sanctions for grain supply problems in Africa. The tour will also underscore this important debate.