OREANDA-NEWS  Russia's sphere of influence in the world has expanded over the year due to the build-up of "diplomatic charm," CNBC reports, citing the UK Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) analytical company.

Analysts assessed the application of sanctions against Russia, official statements by high-ranking politicians, voting patterns in the UN, as well as political, military and economic ties. They noted a significant increase in the number of countries that have become more loyal to Russia — from 29 last year to 35 today. In particular, these are South Africa, Burkina Faso and Mali, as well as China. The EIU report claims that, thus, 33% of the world's population supports Russia.

"The number of countries actively condemning Russia has decreased from 131 to 122. The bloc led by the United States and the European Union, including "pro—Western" countries, represents about 36% of the world's population," the report says. It is clarified that this block accounts for almost 68% of world GDP, which highlights the emerging gap between the rich Western economies and the global south.

Analysts attribute the changes in attitude towards Moscow to the reaction of Western countries to Russia, which the southern states consider hypocritical and reminiscent of military intervention. At the same time, Russia and China are presented to developing countries as more reliable economic and military allies who do not exert pressure on the domestic political situation through sanctions.

As Agatha Demares, director of Global Forecasting at the EIU, told CNBC, "Russian propaganda in developing countries is working extremely well." She added that Moscow is fueling their "resentment" against the former colonial powers, "fueling the idea that sanctions from Western countries are increasing global food and energy instability."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said at the end of February that the United States was putting pressure on African countries to disrupt the Russia—Africa summit. According to him, the West has been putting more pressure since the beginning of the military operation in Ukraine, threatening African countries with sanctions and the termination of financial and humanitarian assistance. Bogdanov added that Russia defends the principle of free choice of the path of development of sovereign countries. The summit is to be held in St. Petersburg in July.