Russia has never had an African colony. It stayed out of the scramble for Africa, only engaging with African states in the . In 1869, for instance, the Russians gave Ethiopia military support to threaten the position of the British in their quest to control the Suez Canal. They did this because Britain was one of their main European rivals.
The Cold War dictated the former USSR’s relations with many African countries for decades. This was followed by a period of relative inactivity. But more recently, relations have become increasingly important for Russia as well as some African countries.
The result is that some African countries no longer need to choose between the American and the Chinese way of development.
Ostensibly, China has the most pragmatic engagement with Africa. Its policy is with the internal workings of nation states or play geopolitics by pitting countries against each other. But it has become increasingly difficult for the country to resist using its military power to .
The research examines Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to redress the global balance of power by countering America’s influence in Africa and trying to match China’s large economic footprint on the continent.
I conclude that Russia’s primary goal is political influence. This is achieved by gaining control of natural resources and providing military support and intelligence. Yet, despite making massive inroads, the Russian Federation is still less influential than the US and China on the continent.
From the African point of view, Russia offers a strategic alternative to America’s global hegemony, China’s economic diplomacy, and the lingering influence of Africa’s former colonial masters.
During the Cold War the Russians provided diplomatic, economic, military, and educational support for . These included Algeria, Angola, Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Sao Tome & Principe, and Tanzania. As a result many young Africans were .
Russia began to trade and interact with these states routinely. It sent in to establish a strong presence and ensure that Africa was not purely influenced by the West. The Russians developed relations with Africa so intensely that for the 10 years between 1950 and 1960 it of colonising powers.
Between 1990 and 1999 Russia’s impact on the continent was spectacularly lowered. Nine embassies and three consulates were closed. The number of personnel subordinated to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was drastically reduced. Russian cultural institutions were closed, and economic relations were unilaterally terminated. Previously generous aid programmes were scrapped.
Russian Interests in Africa
Its long-term goal is to become a political, economic and military mediator that can stand behind Africa’s global interests and count on the continent’s support in return.
Here are some of the areas where Russia are mainly active:
Economic interests: Russia is now seeking to exploit conventional gas and oil fields in Africa and elsewhere. Part of its is to use Russian companies to create new streams of energy supply. For example, have made significant investments in Algeria’s oil and gas industries. They have in Libya, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Egypt.
Defence interests: Russia has traditionally been one of Africa’s main arms suppliers. During the Cold War many armed liberation organisations and African countries – among them Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Guinea – from Russia. More recently Russia has made significant arms deals with and . , , have also bought arms from Russia. The Russians also provide military training and support.
Aid: Under Putin Russia has made to a variety of African countries averaging about $400 million per year. Around 60% of Russian aid is delivered through international organisations; like the World Food Programme and the UN refugee agency. The remaining 40% gets to Africa in a framework of bilateral cooperation. It also makes donations education, health care, agriculture, environment and energy.
The danger for Moscow is that, the more progress it makes with African governments, the more likely it is that its interests will collide with those of either China or the US – or both.
(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.)
. Read more on World by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsRussia in Africa: Can It Offer an Alternative to US and China? . Read more on World by The Quint.