Behind Russia’s renewed interest in Africa?
Some African leaders are currently in Russia for the Russia-Africa Summit. This is coming on the heels on conspicuous advances by Moscow on the African continent in the recent times. The success of the summit is an indication of Russia’s growing role as a key player in the region.
Already, the United States of America and China are both scrambling for Africa, the second time.
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The Soviet Union used to have a major presence on the continent but its economic and political clout waned in the post-Cold-War period.
President Vladimir Putin says the strengthening of ties with African countries is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities.
Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has note: “We do not impose our views, respecting the principle of “African solutions to African problems” proposed by the Africans themselves.
But it’s clear Moscow sees its presence in Africa in very broad terms, building on ties from Soviet times.
In an interview with the Russian Tass state news agency in advance of this week’s summit, President Putin said: “Russian-African relations are on the up,” and spoke about offering: political and diplomatic support; defence and security help; Economic assistance; disease-control advice; humanitarian-relief assistance; educational and vocational training
Russia has been boosting its political contacts in the region, with 12 African heads of state visiting Moscow since 2015 – six of them in 2018 alone.
And its ambitions have prompted some concern in key Western powers they are being outplayed by Moscow.
Last year, former US National Security adviser John Bolton announced a new US strategy for Africa, partly aimed at countering both China and Russia.
However, a recent editorial in the Washington Post talked of Russia “aggressively seeking deals and security relationships” while US influence in the continent continued to decline.
Russia is an important defence partner for Africa and the major supplier of arms to the region.
But Africa is not its biggest defence market – that’s in Asia, reports BBC