Presidents of Russia and Zimbabwe - Photo via en.kremlin.ru

After Crimea’s forceful accession to Russia, the latter’s intentions of reviving Soviet union are clearly visible. And now Russian president is trying to maintain its influence in Africa. Russia’s intentions in Africa are no more hidden from the expert’s eyes. Russia’s influence in Africa is dependent on its military strength and its weapon exports. Putin’s support for Libyan strongman Haftar is also an example of Russia’s influence in Africa. Russia’s influence in Africa is rarely discussed in western media. However, Russia has maintained its slow and steady intrusion in Africa.

The reason for Russia’s interest in Africa is due to Russia’s isolation by Europe and the USA. Europe and USA want to isolate Russia due to its role in Syria and Eastern Ukraine. This situation is prompting Russia to make new friends. Russia wants to make its place in the competition of political influence and trade.

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Looking into African history, it may be noted that Africa has always been the center of influence between the Soviet Union and the USA. After the 1991 Soviet debacle, the relations between Russia and Africa were not good. However, now Russia is again trying to find some alliances in African territory. Russian authorities are closely watching the involvement of the USA, China, and Russia in African regions.

In the current scenario, Russia wants to explore new trade opportunities in Africa. Recently Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov visited African countries, including Mozambique, Angola, and Zimbabwe. Experts opine that business is the most important factor in determining the relations between Russia and Africa. Now Russia is going to host Russia-Africa summit in October 2019. It is expected that more than 40 African leaders will attend that event. This event will be held in Sochi.

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Russia is trying its best to increase influence in Africa by Energy investment, diplomatic and military support. Besides this Russia is deficient in producing some minerals like Chromium and bauxite. In this regard, Russia can take advantage of the rich mineral land of Africa. Russia is trying to establish business activities by using its firms. It also emphasizes on Economic Cooperation. Meanwhile, many African view European investments as greed for mineral resources and Chinese investment as exploitation.

Russian president Vladimir Putin visited the Republic of South Africa in 2006. This visit helped Russia to boost economic ties with Africa. Many agreements on Agricultural and Business cooperation were signed during this visit. This was the same time when the USA and few of its European allies were busy in unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, Russia is also boosting its ties with Ethiopia. Russia agreed to cooperate Ethiopia in nuclear energy. And two also agreed on daily flights from Addis Ababa to Moscow. In Zimbabwe, Russia is going to construct a huge platinum reserve.

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However, Russia’s main focus in Africa is in the field of Energy. Russia is investing in oil, gas and nuclear energy facilities in Africa. In this regard, state-owned enterprises like Alrosa and Renova of Russia are making a huge investment in African countries. These firms are helping Russia to maintain its influence in African markets. Before 2017 the trade, investment in Russia was around 17 billion dollars. However, in 2018 only the investment was around 10 billion dollars.

Moreover, Russia is also seeking investment in the defense sector. Mozambique and Angola are collaborating Russia in this domain. Russia donated its military equipment to the Central African Republic (CAR) to fight against Marauding militias. This donation nullified France’s offer of selling weapons to CAR.

Furthermore, Russia wants to enjoy Africa-Russia relations of the Soviet era. It wants to maintain its influence as a non-colonial entity in Africa. However, the increasing influence of foreign giants can put Africa into conflicts. Africa can become a hub of the trade war between Russia, China, and the West. Now It depends upon African experts that how they can maintain a balance between all of them.

Many experts opine that Russia wants Africa to stay away from Europe and the USA. Russia wants African support in global affairs. Now it depends upon Russia what it can offer to Africa that the West and China could not offer.