We had times when the Soviet state made serious effort to make Africa the area of its political influence. Some states of Africa that became independent with assistance of the USSR were creating ‘African socialism”. Theoreticians of Leninism created tales about how to ‘jump over’ the stage of capitalism and to get almost in the stage of almost communism right after the tribal system. Maybe some countries believed in that, some of them just tried to survive from the Soviet support, because once they give, why not to accept it.
Not everything was going well to Moscow – sometimes Africans simply cheated on Soviets (they hunted away Soviets from Somali and Egypt at some time). Sometimes the winning party was not the one supported by Moscow (Moputo won in Kong, who was supported by the West but not Patris Lumumba supported by Moscow); sometimes they had to involve mercenaries from Cuba (they were organizing ‘revolutions’ in Angola and Ethiopia)… However, all these Soviet projects actually ended together with collapse of the USSR. Now Russia literally is fighting for Africa. Russia was absent from Africa from almost two decades. However, now we can see more traces of Russia there.
We are getting more news about this. Overviews of political events in 2020 clearly demonstrate activity of Russia in this region. We can understand that. The USA still fails to find the expression of its geopolitical interests; European countries are acting in an inflexible manner. However, Russians are not bound by the need to defend democratic values, human rights and comply with long-term business contracts.
We should remember that during Russia –Africa summit held at the end of 2019, with participation of presidents and prime ministers of 45 states Russia signed 92 treaties, total value of which was 14 billion US dollars. Although it is not so much compared with contracts made by China or previous metropolises, however the business of Russia is growing steadily even in the situation of the pandemic. Russia is getting ready to support mining, is offering to build a nuclear power plant and so on, however the most successful area of activities of Russia is the sector in trafficking in arms, provision of armed mercenary personnel and military bases. Currently Russia has military contracts with over twenty states of Africa.
The ratio of support quality and price of Russia is acceptable to most states of Africa. Contrary to Western states, Russia is not bound by the obligation to cooperate only with the states that are quite democratic and secure human rights. Chinese act in a similar way and which is one step ahead of Russia in this area. Telling that they have far better financial possibilities.
According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, about half of the weapons bought in Africa come from Russia. In Algeria 80 percent of weapon export come from Russia. We can see the greatest activity of Russia in Sudan, Central Republic of Africa, Eritrea, Madagascar and Mozambique. There is also an agreement to set up the military base in Sudan. This would mean the return of the Russian fleet to the region after many decades when the fleet of the USSR was drawn from the capital port of Somali. Now in Sudan, in the Red Sea Russians will be able to keep combat ships and also use all defence infrastructure of Sudan. Treaties provide for a possibility to train Sudanese soldiers and provide various weapons. Geopolitical significance of the Red Sea is undoubtful, which is the most important trade roads. China, USA, France and Italy have bases on the coast. Turkey also is dreaming about it.
Russia also plans to have military bases in Eritrea, Mozambique and Madagascar. Eritrea has two strategically important ports, thus Russia pretends to establish ‘a logistics centre”. In Mozambique Russian mercenaries were fighting with terrorists of the Islamic State (to tell the truth, not very successfully), however they turned to be reliable allies.
Not long ago an upheaval was taking place in the state of Mali, that is being taken care about security and maintenance of peace by the EU, especially by France. Among plotters there were officers, who were learning in Russia. This is the victory of Russia over France and all European Union that were supporting the overthrown president.
Russia and France. It seems they try to be in good terms in Europe, however in Africa their interests are often different. In already mentioned Mali, especially in Central African Republic countries are actually fighting with each other.
A civil conflict is going on in the Central African Republic between the Islamic and Catholic part of population. Wagner group mercenaries actively acting in this country safeguard the security of the president Touadera. At the end of the last year, during presidential election, namely Russian contingent safeguarded ‘stability’ of the atmosphere of elections in the country and allowed the president to win the election.
The Central African Republic, officially one of the poorest countries in the world, has always been a quite loved geopolitical product of France. Governments used to change in this country under direct or indirect control of Paris, however France found itself on the side of losing in recent years. Meanwhile Russia….supported the winning fraction. The volume of the text does not allow to go into a detailed description how all this happened, however in this case I have to emphasize that the ‘game’ of Russia was smart and successful in this case. Bases in the neighbour Sudan and control over the government in the Central African Republic open gates to control over all Sahara, control over the region that French undoubtedly used to consider its property. To tell the truth, Russians do not fight in a wise way, train local soldiers in a poor way too, however they can be proud that they still support the government officially accepted in this country but not its opponents.
The North Africa can be assigned more to the region of Central Europe, but officially it is still Africa. Policy of Russia in Libya is important and delicate. Officially it supports the general Khalifa Haftar, however it also flirts with the government accepted by the international community. The goal of such a policy is weak Libya and let’s say divided spheres of interests of Russia-Turkey, when not only resources but also trade roads can be controlled over once controlled but also migrant flows, for instance.
What does Russia need all this for? It needs to be the great state and not just because of African resources but because of geopolitical influence.
Moscow does need neither stability nor strong states, on the contrary, weak and dependent political constructions are political products of Moscow. Russia does not build any socialism nor communism. Russia has created unrecognized quasi-states in the neighbourhood. It does not feel embarrassed to support civil wars, too and groups that are at feud. The expansion of hybrid Russia continues. It is a good learning material for specialists of hybrid wars, however to the future of Africa it is… .