Russia's new focus on Africa takes advantage of US drift

Russian President Vladimir Putin is following China's lead and making a splashy bid for influence in Africa, hosting the continent's leaders this week in the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit. The Kremlin has said 47 of the continent's 54 heads of state or government are expected to attend.

Russia is taking advantage of the Trump administration's seemingly waning interest in the continent of 1.2 billion people that includes some of the world's fastest growing economies and a strategic perch on the Red Sea.

As it pursues growing military and business activities in Africa, Russia portrays itself as free from the past baggage of colonialism and slavery that haunt some traditional powers.

Russia can grow its interests in Africa while avoiding Western sanctions imposed over its annexation of Crimea in 2014.