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The impact of Russian presence in Africa

Kohnert, Dirk (2022): The impact of Russian presence in Africa.

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Abstract

Putin attaches great importance to rebuilding Russia as a world power, including relations with Africa. But while the Soviet Union used to advocate socialist modernization in Africa, Moscow no longer offers socialist ideologies. Instead, it focuses on access to African elites, particularly authoritarian leaders. It also seeks to sway elections in its favour, particularly in fragile but resource-rich states. The Kremlin says it wants to avoid competing directly with other powers active in Africa. Instead, it wants to focus on countries where neither the West nor China dominates. There it expects to be able to work more effectively. But Russia, like China, is challenging Western norms, undermining US and EU sanctions. In addition, both strategic partners support non-interference in the internal affairs of states. In addition, Russia's relations with Africa have been significantly motivated significantly by its interest in African resources and security markets. Russia's resurgence in Africa benefits not least from Islamist terrorism, for example, in the Sahel and Mozambique. It uses fragile states and ongoing conflicts to secure lucrative arms deals and mining concessions. Moscow signed military cooperation agreements with 21 African governments, including negotiations on establishing military bases. It uses paramilitary contractors to manipulate the course of local conflicts in its favour. Since 2015, Russian-African trade has doubled to around USD 20 billion per year. Russia exported $14 billion worth of goods and services and imported about $5 billion worth of African products. In return, Moscow can count on the support of African leaders in foreign policy. Thus, Eritrea voted against a UN General Assembly resolution strongly condemning Russia's war in Ukraine. 18 other African countries abstained, including Mali, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa.

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