Russia in Africa: Weapons, Mercenaries, Spin Doctors

Russia in Africa: Weapons, Mercenaries, Spin Doctors

Written on 10/22/2019


The Kremlin eyes the African continent as yet another arena of a massive clash with the West, as it did under the Cold War reality. But their competition has now been of a rather practical and economic nature, pushing ideologies somewhere to the margin. Also, Moscow has enjoyed the positive image it had retained in Africa back from the Soviet times.


  • Russia’s expansion across the Dark Continent will be best exemplified by the first-ever Russia-Africa summit, set to take place in the resort town of Sochi in October 2019. It comes as the culmination of years of Moscow’s heated political and economic efforts to nurture ties with its African peers, and intends to give the green light to open a new chapter.
  • Russia’s clout on African soil runs on many tracks, and its expansion is geared primarily towards hybrid activities. In Moscow’s offer for Africa are mercenaries, military equipment, mining investments, nuclear power plants, and railway connections. Russian military specialists help those politicians that show a pro-Russian attitude.
  • Their activities, or those of mercenaries, serve the Kremlin’s political goals to the very same extent, by offering tangible financial benefits to these business circles that hold close links to Vladimir Putin. Africa is viewed as a prospective source of wealth for Russian oligarchs –– a source of minerals and an outlet for Russian-made military weapons. These investments should pay off, both economically and –– more importantly –– politically.
  • Besides establishing a large group of Russian friends in Africa, it is no less vital to deploy Moscow’s military forces to the continent, albeit carefully. Russia’s fielding of its mercenaries and combat advisors to the Dark Continent may give rise to building up its military presence. Moscow holds interest in creating military facilities in strategically important areas, also throughout the Horn of Africa.
  • Inking fresh batches of military agreement deals in an effort to potentially boost Moscow’s capacity of establishing army facilities, or the issue related to economic affairs, runs the risk for Western countries, given Russia’s neutral stance on China. And the West is gradually losing both its impetus and interest in Africa. This paved the way for Russian expansion, enabling Moscow to fill the void left by the United States, as some time ago in Egypt.


Photo source: KREMLIN.RU

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