President Lazarus Chakwera has failed to attend the Russia-Africa summit in Russia amid fears of sanctions from United States and United Kingdom.
Chakwera is among heads of state who have stayed away from the summit which has only attracted 17 African leaders. The previous Russia-Africa summit in 2019 was attended by 43 African leaders, including Malawi President at the time Peter Mutharika.
Nikolai Krasilnikov, Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Malawi said in March this year that Russian President Vladimir Putin had invited Chakwera to the forum in respect of the mutual relationship standing between Malawi and Russia.
However, instead of going to Russia, Chakwera went to Tanzania on Tuesday this week where he attended the Human Capital Summit on Wednesday before returning home today.
Analysts believe the Chakwera administration fears that going to the Russia-Africa summit could lead to sanctions from the United States and United Kingdom which pour billion of Kwacha into Malawi every year.
Russia also believes that the West has exerted its power to stop African countries from attending the summit.
Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said: “This is absolutely blatant, brazen interference by the United States, France and other states through their diplomatic missions in African countries and their attempts to put pressure on the leadership of these countries in order to prevent their active participation in the forum.”
Chakwera is one of African leaders who have openly condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine. When the war broke out last year, he called on Russia to withdraw its soldiers.
In August last year, Chakwera had a phone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine and assured him of Malawi’s support as Ukraine continued to defend itself from Russia’s attack.
African leaders at the summit in Russia include Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique.