Russian Foreign Policy in Africa



    In 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Africa was a foreign policy priority. In the past four years Russian economic and military influence has vastly spread across the continent. Russia is making political alliances with African nations through arms deals, military assistance, and economic investments. Russia is doing this to increase their influence in the international arena and to subvert the efforts of Western nations.

    Key Judgement 1: Africa is almost certain to continue to be a high priority of Russian foreign policy over the next 12 months.

    • In 2019 a Russia-Africa summit generated over 30 business contracts between Russia and multiple African countries. The contracts range from economic cooperation to military arms deals.Russia now does around $20 billion USD in trade with countries throughout the continent. (Source)
    • Africa is one of the most natural resource dense and diverse continents on the planet. State-backed Russian firms have begun investing heavily in the extraction of these resources throughout the continent. Additionally, many of these resources play a critical role in defence technologies. (Source)
    • Russia’s foreign policy throughout Africa has been to provided military assistance where the West cannot or will not. In 2015 Russia deployed its military to Syria to combat Islamic extremism. Since then, many African nations have turned to Russia for assistance in fighting extremist. Russia filled the void left by the US in Nigeria when the US pulled out of an arms agreement due to human rights concerns. (Source, Source)
    • The shadowy Russian private military company known as Wagner Group has been known to act as a tool of Russian policy across Africa in countries like Mali, Libya, and the Central African Republic. More can be read about this shady organization in Grey Dynamic’s six-part series. (Source, Source)
    Tools of Russian foreign policy deployed abroad.
    Russian KSO operators (Source)

    Key Judgement 2: It is highly likely that over the next twelve months Russia will use African nations to bolster their power in the international arena and to weaken the capabilities of its enemies.

    • Russian foreign policy is largely based around making it harder for its enemies to get the resources they do not have. Russia has an estimated $75 trillion USD in natural resources. It is the single most resource dense country on the planet. With resources ranging from oil to rare earth metals. The next runner up is the United States with $45 trillion USD but 90% of it is in timber and coal resources. (Source, Source, Source)
    • Russian policy in Africa is based largely around building bridges with African nations the West cannot or will not. Russia has no issues aiding countries with questionable track records regarding human rights or upholding democratic ideals. In 2019 Facebook’s security department reported that Russia had interfered with elections in 8 African nations. (Source)
    • Russia’s foreign policy objectives come to fruition in the United Nations General Assembly’s vote to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Over 30 African nations either abstained or opposed the resolution. (Source)

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 17th May 2022

    Jordan Smith
    Jordan Smith
    Jordan is currently working on his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He is majoring in International Politics with a concentration in Security Studies and a minor in Russian language.

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