Russia delivered two nuclear-capable bombers to South Africa on a training mission on October 23, a flight apparently timed to coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s opening of a flagship Russia-Africa Summit conceived to ensure Russian influence.
The two Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers landed at Waterkloof air force base in Tshwane on October 23, the South African National Defence Force announced.The Ministry of Defence of Russian Federation has said the mission is designed to nurture military ties with South Africa.
Addressing African heads of state at a two-day summit in the southern Russian city of Sochi, President Putin supported trade with African countries, foreseen to double over the next four to five years. Meanwhile Moscow had written off $20 billion of African debts.
The first Russia-Africa summit is part of a Kremlin strategy to win business and restore influence that faded after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which actively supported left-wing governments and movements across the continent during the period of the Cold War.
“Many Russian companies have long and successfully worked with partners from the most different sectors of the African economy and plan to expand their influence in Africa. We of course will provide support at the state level,” President Putin said.