What is Russia looking for in Africa?

Experts – about the first summit &# 171; Russia – Africa&# 187; held in Sochi

Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi at the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Aswan for a forum on peace and sustainable development, media reported on Thursday, October 24. Both leaders are co-chairs of the Sochi event, which took place over two days.
The “African” summit was first held in Russia and brought together over forty heads of countries and governments of the African continent, several more states were represented at the level of ministers and ambassadors.
In total, the forum was attended by about 10 thousand people. There is no information in the public domain about how much it cost the Russian treasury..
On the eve of the summit, Vladimir Putin called it a landmark and announced the cancellation of over $ 20 billion in debt to African countries. This is practically equal to last year’s total trade turnover between Russia and the countries of the continent. For comparison, China has 205 billion, not to mention the quality component of the import-export share..
By organizing a representative forum, President Putin seeks to position Russia as a long-term and reliable partner of Africa, unlike the United States and the former colonial European powers, the Financial Times noted in a commentary. The question is – what content can the Russian Federation fill its proposal for cooperation with??
Former Minister of Economy of Russia Alexey Nechaev in a commentary for the Russian service of Voice of America, he stressed that at a time of aggravation of conflicts between Moscow and the United States and European countries, as well as incessant sanctions wars, the Russian leadership is very actively looking for supporters on other continents. It is because of this, in his opinion, that the Kremlin has now turned its gaze to Africa..
“Potentially, this is a rather interesting continent, first of all for Russian companies with a raw material orientation,” he added. – Africa is a great source of all kinds of raw materials. Therefore, the very fact of holding such a forum is, of course, the success of Russian diplomacy. It is another matter that while the volume of trade relations with Africa, despite their noticeable growth, Russia has scanty. Especially in comparison with China. $ 20 billion, of which a third is in Egypt, is a drop in the bucket “.
But there is potential, and what will come of it – we’ll see, says Alexey Nechaev.
Putin set the task of doubling trade with African countries in the near future. According to some analysts, Africa will have the fastest economic growth in the world by 2030.
As for Russia’s cancellation of debts to African countries, then we need to take a sober view of things, the ex-minister said. According to him, this category of borrowings is practically irrecoverable..
“Moreover, these are largely former Soviet debts,” he explained. – I faced this myself, working in the government. The debts were essentially not formalized. That is, they distributed, say, weapons or loans to support the so-called socialist regimes – Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, at some stage – Egypt. But all this was carried out at some exotic exchange rates and was not legally formalized adequately “.

What is Russia looking for in Africa?

Therefore, initially it was not particularly necessary to count on the return of debts, summed up Alexey Nechaev.
According to the political scientist Alexander Golts, The “African” summit was needed by the Kremlin, first of all, in order to once again demonstrate that Russia is a great power, which has its own interests throughout the world. According to him, this is fundamentally important in conditions when Russia is actually in isolation, and its relations with most European countries are in a frozen state..
“Therefore, the Kremlin seeks to show that everywhere, including in Africa, Russia is an irreplaceable player and partner,” he explained in a commentary to the Russian service of the Voice of America. – It is clear that the opportunities in the light of the development of cooperation with the countries of the “Black Continent” are huge. But to implement them, huge investments are needed. And Russia does not have enough investment to invest in the economy and social infrastructure of its own country “.
According to the political scientist, this alone makes one think about the true reasons for the expansion of Russian expansion on the continent. Another question is that in terms of military-technical cooperation, business with African countries looks quite attractive for the specialized state-owned companies of the Russian Federation, he said: “In a region torn by constant conflicts, cheap weapons are in great demand, and Russia is able to supply them, making money on this. money. Forget about morality “.
According to the general director of Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev, the Russian package of proposals to African countries includes the construction of enterprises for the production of small arms and ammunition for them. In addition, Russia is ready to provide customers with bases for overhaul and maintenance of military equipment of all types..

Why is Russia so interested in Africa? | The Stream

Alexander Golts also believes that Moscow is using military mercenaries to advance the interests of certain groups in Africa..
“The fighters of the Wagner group have been in a number of countries for a long time on a permanent basis. It has already become a tendency to send quasi-military formations to Africa to ensure either Russian interests, or the interests of business people close to Putin. ” I suspect that these interests do not always coincide, “the political scientist concluded..
According to media reports, Russia is training the military in almost 40 African countries, including with the help of mercenaries from PMC Wagner. The Central African Republic, Libya, Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Chad, South Africa – this is not a complete list of states where Moscow is spreading its influence through its usual set of means – the supply of weapons and military advisers. Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Nigeria are next in line …

  • Victor Vladimirov

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