Holding a summit with Africa, Moscow no longer conceals its ambition to expand its influence in Africa to help regain Russia’s status internationally. President Vladimir Putin will meet with 35 African state leaders to discuss political and economic issues and Russia’s potential for cooperation.
Africa: an ideal partner
Russia is now pushing closer relations with Africa based on fine traditional relations and a rich cooperative potential. Russia played an important role in Africa’s liberation from imperialism and apartheid. Russia helped African people defend national independence and sovereignty, develop their economy, and build capable armed forces. Experts from the Soviet Union, and later Russia, built major infrastructure works in Africa such as hydropower plants, roads, and industrial facilities. Thousands of Africans have studied in Russia.
Since President Putin took office in 2000, the Russian-African relations have grown. Putin revived diplomatic, economic, and military relations with former allies. Russian-African relations have shifted from politics to economics, trade, security, and military. Arnaud Dubien of France’s Institute for International Relations and Strategies (IRIS) said Russia has always maintained its influence despite a modest presence in African countries such as Algeria, Libya, and Egypt.
In late 2017 Russia initiated a nuclear power plant project and many weapon contracts. Russia has signed military cooperation agreements with Mali, Burkina Faso, and Congo.
Welcoming new opportunities
Africa has long been the scene of a strategic race between the US, China, and the EU. Russia wants to seek new opportunities.
Prior to the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum, Putin said Russia is ready to compete for cooperation with Africa. Russia will give priority to developing relations with African states and organizations and is planning to enlist African partners in projects to exploit gold, bronze, and petroleum.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has paid regular visits to sub-Saharan and northern African countries. Russia has raised its voice at meetings of BRICS, the African Union, and the West African Economic Community. Putin said he will create a cooperative development strategy with the West and China with a commitment not to use pressure or threat or intimidation in exploiting Africa’s resources.