Russia is building military influence in Africa, challenge US, France

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – August 8, 2020: Ethiopians love up a poster of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a pro-government meeting condemning the insurgent Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Russia challenges the status quo in Africa, using insecurity and diplomatic disputes with Western powers as springboard to expand its presence on the continent.

From Libya to Nigeria, from Ethiopia to Mali, Moscow is building key strategic military alliances and an increasingly favorable public profile in all of Africa in recent years.

Central in this effort stands for offering alternatives countries die have become dissatisfied with Western diplomatic partnerships.

The second Russia-Africa summit is planned for 2022. At the inaugural summit in Sochi in In 2019, President Vladimir Putin vowed that Russia “wouldn’t participate” in An new ‘Divide’ of the wealth of the continent; in instead we are ready to participate in competition for cooperation with Africa.”

Russia has via the UN also aid provided in the form of food and medical aid in addition to the growing commercial, economic and military support over the mainland.

Russia’s Bilateral Push

In the past Russia has signed for two months alone military cooperation agreements with Nigeria and Ethiopia, the two most populous countries in Africa.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that Africa is responsible for for 18% of Russian arms exports between 2016 and 2020.

Russian mercenaries have also direct aid to governments in Libya and the Central African Republic, according to the UN. However, the Kremlin has ties met the Wagner Group, a paramilitary, denied organization claimed by the UN to help human rights violations in the region.

“AN group of Russian instructors were sent to the CAR on request of its leaders and with the knowledge of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on the CAR established by Resolution 2127,” said a statement from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in July. “Indicative, no of they participated in combat activities.”

Reuters reported: in July that US lawmakers had halted a planned $1 billion arms sale to Nigeria over accusations of human rights violations by the government.

Less than a month later, Russia signed a deal with The government of President Muhammadu Buhari to supply military equipment, educations technology to Nigerian troops.

MOSCOW – Members of a Nigerian delegation inspects a Russian Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunter military helicopter during the opening day of the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky outside Moscow on July 20, 2021.


Although historically a key diplomatic and trade partner of the US, Buharis government found yourself at odds with Washington amid the #EndSARS protests in 2020, and again after a recent rainfall with Twitter.

Meanwhile, Islamic militant groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa province have continued to wreak havoc in the northeast of the country.

this confluence of factors die the way for Russian influencebuilding used to be also Bee play in Ethiopia. Russia has provided support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government after Western Governments Oppose His Armed Forces military answer to an uprising in northern Tigray.

Ethiopia felt the US in in the special thing was alignment with Egypt in the ongoing dispute over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken further aroused the anger of Addis Ababa in Marching by accusing forces in tigray of “Ethnic Cleansing.”

The Russian minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov then met with Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnen in June. Moscow continued with commitment of election observers to Ethiopia, while the EU has withdrawn its observers, citing “ongoing violence in nationwide, human rights violations and political tensions, intimidation” of media workers and detained opposition members.”

Sochi, Russia – October 23, 2019: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (4th L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) during Russian-Ethiopian talks on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit 2019 in Sirius Park of Science and art.

Donat SorokinTASS via Getty Images

Russia has provided strategic weapons, as well as potential defense against every Egyptian strike on the GERD and to help government forces in tigray.

“Acquisitions by the Tigray Defense Force (TDF), die got parts” of the regions of Afar and Amhara in the past few weeks, make the provision of much needed weapons all more important for Addis Ababa, and Moscow is likely to comply with such a request, possibly on An buy-now-pay-later basis”, says Louw Nel, senior politics analyst at NKC African Economics.

In what Nel marked as a “sign of stuff die come go”, Ethiopia and Russia signed a military Cooperation in July, specifically targeted on knowledge and technology transfers. However, Nel noted that Ethiopia will be “on its guard” of allow russian personnel to be deployed there in something other than a training capacity.”

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

American ‘creeping’ build-up’

The US has promised to revive its economic and commercial commitments in to blow in Africa, but a planned disadvantage of troops gives way to extensive expenses on operational bases and longerterm plans to maintain a strategic presence, according to a recent report by risk intelligence service Pangea-Risk.

In 2018, when US national security adviser John Bolton selected out Russia’s expansionist ‘influence’ in all of Africa’ and Washington was eager to keep a foothold on the continent.

The Biden Administration is: set to keep the US military’s 27 operational outposts on the continent, while the country’s Africa Command (Africom) prioritizes counter-terrorism objectives in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.

The US is also establish presence in other strategically important regions, such as the Red Sea and the Gulf of Guinea. Some $330 million will be reportedly spent by 2025 on U.S military basic construction and related infrastructure projects, while Africom signs up a 20-year Strategic Plan.

This will focus on counter terrorism, special troop operations and humanitarian support, by with protecting US commercial interests in the face of growing Chinese and Russian presence.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and employees are participating in An virtual bilateral meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during a video conference at the State Department in Washington, DC on April 27, 2021.


The report noted that the Cape Verdean authorities have reached an agreement since July 2020 over a status of Agreement of Forces with The United States military until allow American troops operate from his archipelago.

“Such an agreement is logical given global geopolitics competition in the West African region and the need to stop growth risk of piracy in the wave of Guinea, both of die pose an existential threat to US commercial interests,” said Pangea-Risk CEO Robert Besseling.

“However, the one-year-old BANK with Cape Verde raises questions over wider US diplomatic and judicial engagements in the country, and of does this give a pattern? for US-Africa relations underway forward.”

International Crisis Group Africa Program Director Comfort Ero, has said the “creepy” build-up” of U.S military on the continent was accompanied met mixed messages, accusing both the US and African governments of a defect of transparency.

The US will probably phase out it’s instant military presence in insecure hotspots, but keeps looking for SOFA deals with countries of strategic importance, Pangea-Risk said, adding that Washington will be reluctant to pull out completely because of the Chinese and Russian presence.

France struggles in the Sahel

France maintains largest presence and number of troops of each former colonial power in Africa, in the special in form of 5,100 troops in the Sahel, where the border is area meeting between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger has become a hotspot for violence.

“Paris is inconsistent in its treatment of friendly regimes, indulging in an unconstitutional transfer of power in Chad, but tougher action after a coup d’état in Mali,” says Nel from NKC.

French President Emmanuel Macron backed a military-led transition of Chadian President Idriss Deby, who is killed in battle with rebels in April, to be son. This was in conflict met the country’s constitution and sparked anti-French protests and vandalism of a Total gas station.

PAU, France – French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Chadian President Idriss Deby ahead of a summit on the situation in the Sahel region in the southern French city of pau on January 13, 2020.

GEORGES GOBET/AFP via Getty Images

However, when? Colonel Assimi Goita established military rule in MaliMacron denounced the coup and suspended a joint military operation with the Malian army. protests in the aftermath goods also hostile to France, while Russian flags and posters were visible.

“Seen clear negative trend in political stability in Mali, there is reason considering danger that it could end up looking like the CAR, where President Faustin-Archange Touadéra is weak government is becoming in being preserved in place by Russian muscle: the mercenaries of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group,” said Nel.

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