After years of absence, Russia is reappearing as a power factor in Africa. Moreover, it is taking advantage of the gaps left by the USA and Europeans. Now Putin invites us to the big Africa summit.
203 mainly Russian soldiers, three combat helicopters, military technology of the latest generation, two types of military trucks in Mozambique, names South African terrorism expert Jasmine Opperman. The armed arrived in September in Mozambique’s gas-rich troubled province Cabo Delgado. Even if official confirmations of this military presence are often lacking: Russia is flying the flag again in Africa.
10,000 participants from 54 african countries invited
The best proof of this is the first Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea city of Sochi. Until Thursday, host Vladimir Putin expects 44 heads of state and government from the African continent at the two-day meeting. 10,000 summit participants from 54 African states and Russia attended. “Africa is increasingly becoming a continent of opportunities,” Putin told the State Agency Tass before the start of the summit. He announced that billions to invest in Africa.
In doing so, around three decades after the collapse of communism, Russia wants to build on old contacts from Soviet times. Russian Africa expert Leonid Fituni recalled in an article by Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the former Western colonies gained their freedom under the influence of Moscow. At the time, the Soviet Union helped the countries to build their own economies. Hundreds of thousands of Africans trained in Russia.
“Gold Rush Atmosphere” in Africa
The vice-president of the Africa Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences believes that Russia today could benefit from the “gold-rush mood” in Africa. Fituni points to the Chinese, who already for years expanded their influence on the continent. Under pressure from anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the US and the EU, the country could take advantage of the African growth market. “They show great interest in our weapons, especially since they have been successfully used in zones of regional conflict,” said Fituni.
Economic interests and geopolitical calculations
It is also clear, however, that in addition to economic interests for Russia, geopolitical considerations are also at stake. The great power that was self-confident again under Putin wants to leave neither China nor the West – especially the USA – to Africa. Russian commentators argue that Africa is the battlefield of a new Cold War with the West. According to the media, the Russians reached military and political agreements with about 30 African states. “Russia engages itself above all militarily strongly in the Central African Republic,” says Günter Nooke (CDU), the Federal Government Commissioner for Africa.
First published in zdf, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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