March 26, 2023


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How has Russia expanded its influence in Africa?

Wednesday, The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution “It” is required Russia Stop using immediately Force against Ukraine “In detail, 141 countries agreed, only 5 countries opposed, 35 countries did not vote. Of the latter, we see China, Cuba or Kazakhstan, but 17 countries logically. Africans – Eritrea, one of the five countries that voted against, should be included. Nearly half of the votes against the resolution came from this continent, a testament to the influence that Russia still exerts on it.

You have to go back in time to understand it. When Cold War, The Soviet Union was involved in Africa, greatly supporting anti-colonial and pro-independence movements, thus reducing the strangulation of the West on the continent. Carol Grimot Potter, a professor of geopolitics at the University of Montpellier, has provided economic, military, and diplomatic assistance to Algeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Egypt. Moscow goes to great lengths to create a university to train future political decision-makers of the continent, especially for African students.

A growth market

This cooperation ended in the late 1980s, at the end of the Soviet Union, and was a dormant letter for the next decade, with Russia already trying to rebuild itself before expanding. But out of the new millennium, Africa is once again attracting greed. “In the early 2000s, China It does not hide the purpose of investing heavily there. The continent is experiencing strong growth. Vladimir Putin He traveled there for the first time in 2005 and multiplied visits to the continent. Africa has been assigned to Russia as a key strategic issue, “said Roland Marshall, a research fellow at Science Bowe and an expert on the policies of major powers in Africa.

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Continent is a growing economic market, confirms Carol Grimot Potter, Take wheat as an example : Russia is the world’s leading producer and exporter, selling 37% of its exports to Africans. “In the event of an economic conflict European union Or the US, Africa is a stable market that does not take sanctions or boycotts, ”the expert says.

Economic and military influence

Double the easy market to exploit. On the one hand, Russia should only renew ties because the Soviet Union has already invested in it, Roland Marcel first mentions. “Russia specializes in civilian nuclear and mining, two of Africa’s key capabilities. Of course, there is the military sector. Russian weapons Strong, easy to use and inexpensive are the three most valuable qualities, ”explains the researcher.

Because Russia’s influence in Africa is also military. “Moscow particularly supports dictatorial regimes that do not have many allies in the international arena,” said Carol Grimotter. Cooperation with “touch” regimes such as Sudan, Libya, Mali or the Central African Republic establishes its presence – Russia, for example, has set up a military base in Sudan – with allies loyal to it as there is no alternative to supply.

Diplomatic aspect, the other side of Moscow

Moscow is trying to expand His diplomatic influence In Africa. In 2019, the first Russia-Africa summit was organized, bringing together Vladimir Putin and the leaders of most African countries. In addition to a trade and military alliance, Russia has a strong argument: “Moscow makes its honey in Africa in an anti-Western rhetoric, which inevitably echoes with angry people after centuries of colonialism and decades of failed post-colonialism.” March.

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Vote at UN Wednesday thus shows Moscow the main advantage of this diplomatic rapprochement: winning positive votes or at least not unfavorable ones. Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 54 are African countries, making it the most represented continent with more than a quarter of the vote. “This represents a decisive role for Russia against the voices of the West, which is generally unfavorable. African countries are not affiliated with the European Union or the United States, and they use their own vote,” says Roland Marshall.

Another country understands these issues well and seeks to expand its sphere of influence with the same or almost the same arguments: China. “For now, the two giants are avoiding tensions,” says Carol Grimotter Potter. But until when?