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Open Source Backgrounder: Russian Strategy in Sub-Sahara Africa, Military & Industrial Partnerships-What is Russia Up To?
De Faakto Intelligence Research Observatory
Background & Analysis
Russia is building strong partnerships with Sub-Saharan African nations as a strategy to displace NATO and counter western influence. Some African partnerships established during the Soviet era, were weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, others are the result of opportunities created by the departure of western alliances. Russia has since re-engaged African nations to develop economic and military partnerships. This is a means of increasing Russia’s global & regional influence & power. Russia provides African nations with military hardware, advisors, trainers and nuclear power generation. In return Russia receives business opportunities, access to natural resources and leases for decidedly strategic regional military & naval bases.
Partnerships are sometimes based on the “Wagner mercenary-PMC Business model,” successfully implemented in Crimea & Syria, Russian security companies are stabilizing hostile regions, and advancing industrial commerce. African partners are using mining expertise, provided by Russian nationals to extract diamonds, uranium, oil & gas. Russian-African partnerships are achieving national security through acquisition of arms and weapons systems that, western countries would not sell to them anyway. Russian arms are economical, good quality; spare parts are readily available and come with the added value of Russian advisor-trainers. Russia’s strategic partnership building using military and industrial proficiency is shrewd policy, which counters the West and NATO influence in Africa.
What African Countries are of Interest to Russia?
- Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Sudan, Guinea
- Russia has historical partnerships with Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe (Strategic Culture, 2018)
Why is Russia Interested in Africa?
- Africa is part of Russia’s overall global strategy to challenge the West and squeeze NATO out of strategic regions
- Russia is interested in building military & naval bases in strategic regions of Africa
- Russia desires power and influence within the continent of Africa
- Weapons trade, Russia is a premium supplier of military arms in Africa
- Russian mining companies want access to diamond reserves, uranium mines
- Russian energy companies wish to Develop African energy projects
- Proxy war with U.S.
What Russian Weaponry do African Nations Seek from Russia?
- Small Arms, infantry rifles, pistols, machine guns
- Sniper Rifles
- Air Defense Systems
- Russian-made jets
- Russian-made helicopters
- Essentially any conventional weapons system Russian arms makers produce and sell internationally
How Much Trade is Russia Doing with Sub-Saharan African Countries?
- Russia is doing brisk a brisk business trade in the south Sahara
- $3.6 billion in 2017
- $3.3 billion in 2016
- $2.2 billion in 2015 (Strategic Culture, 2018)
- The Center for Strategic & International Studies puts Russian trade at $4.2 billion a year
Why Buy Russian Arms & Weapons Systems?
- Nations need to defend themselves to foster internal stability and security, to do this a nation requires military equipment, most poor African nations lack the expertise and resources to make arms
- “Russia has a competitive advantage in the arms trade because of a better cost-benefit ratio, The Africans like that better because it is more at the level they can afford.” (Financial Times, 2018)
- Russia’s weapons are in high demand being cheap and effective as has been proven by their use during the Syrian conflict (Strategic Culture, 2018)
- Western powers will not sell arms to these nations anyway, Russia is filling a void
What Does Sudan Want From Russia?
- Military Jets
- Air-defense Systems
- Russian instructors for training local soldiers
- Protection from the aggressive actions of the United States (Newsweek, 2018)
What Does Russia Get From Sudan?
- Mineral deals for Russian mining companies (Reuters, 2018)
- Russia wants a military base on the Sudan Red Sea coast; this provides Russia the opportunity to counter NATO (Newsweek, 2018)
Central Africa Republic (CAR)
What Does CAR Want From Russia?
- Security & stability
- The CAR central government does not control 80% of the country
- CAR wants Russian security advisors & contractors to secure regions of country under rebel control, to counter instability and violence
- Russian support & assistance to backfill western disengagement
- A Presidential Guard-with Russian security expertise, augmented with Russian contractors & advisors (Washington Post, 2018)
What Does Russia Get From CAR?
- Access to precious resources like uranium, gold and diamonds
- Mining opportunities-CAR had begun extracting diamonds on an alluvial site not far from the capital, Bangui, with the help of a Russian company called Lobaye Invest
- Lobaye Invest is a subsidiary of the St. Petersburg firm M Invest, founded by Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin-also known as Putins Chef (Bloomberg, 2018)
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
What Does DRC Want From Russia?
- Military armaments
- Military advisory and training
- Economic cooperation
- Mineral production
- Humanitarian contacts (Strategic Culture, 2018)
- The DRC recently announced revival of its 1999 military agreement with Russia, this agreement facilitates delivery of arms and training from Moscow (Strategic Culture, 2018)
What Transactions is Russia Making With Ethiopia?
- Transportation projects
- Nuclear energy
- Agriculture (Reuters, 2018)
What Transactions is Russia Making With Chad?
- Energy projects in Chad (Reuters, 2018)
What Transactions is Russia Making With Zimbabwe?
- Diamond and platinum projects (Reuters, 2018)
What Transactions is Russia Making With Kenya?
- Delivery of Russian Su-30K fighter jets (Strategic Culture, 2018)
- Kenya purchases a significant amount of Russian arms and has a passed a number of its security professionals through Russian-sponsored training programs and scholarships (Rising Powers, 2018)
- Kenya’s Council for Nuclear Energy signed a memorandum for cooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy with Russia (Rising Powers, 2018)
What is Russia Trying to Accomplish in Africa?
- An Axis of Influence in Africa (Newsweek, 2018)
“The Russians want to implant themselves in the Central African Republic so they have an axis of influence through Sudan in the north and southwards into Angola,” says a senior United Nations security official (Newsweek, 2018)
Russia is attempting to restore Soviet era influence throughout the developing world (Bloomberg, 2018)
Moscow considers relations with the African Union an issue of special importance (Strategic Culture, 2018)
Russian is delivering success where western countries have failed and is optimistic African counties will notice and contract Russian resources (Washington Post, 2018)
Russian logic is that you bind the leadership of the country you’re interested in with financial obligations and sort it out through diplomatic and back channels”. (Financial Times, 2018)
Why is Russia Successful in Africa When Others are Not?
- “The West is not very much loved by many countries. And many (see) Russia as the country that will oppose the West,” said Dmitri Bondarenko, an anthropologist and historian at Russia’s Institute for African Studies. (Newsweek, 2018)
- “The French are hated as the old colonial power. American troops have left. It’s free for the taking.” (Newsweek, 2018)
- China has spent decades and billions of dollars trying to entrench itself in Africa, Russia is offering its brute force and strong appetite for risk (Bloomberg, 2018)
- The Wagner business model is well suited to the (African) region where a forceful presence can be a prerequisite for successful business [Wagner is a Russian Private Military Contractor with presence in Crimea & Syria] (Bloomberg, 2018)
Russia’s Growing Influence in Sub-Saharan Africa- ARKADY SAVITSKY-Strategic Culture (2018)
Journalists’ deaths highlight Russia’s moves into Africa- Max Seddon and Tom Wilson-Financial Times (2018)
Battle for Africa’: Russia Pushes Into ‘Free Country for the Taking’ In Attempt to Rival the West- JACK LOSH AND OWEN MATHEWS-Newsweek (2018)
There’s a new battle for influence in Central Africa, and Russia appears to be winning- Cassandra Vinograd-The Washington Post (2018)
Death, Diamonds and Russia’s Africa Project-Leonid Bershidsky-Bloomberg (2018)
How Russia moved into Central Africa-Aaron Ross-Reuters (2018)
Russia’s Renewed Interests in the Horn of Africa As a Traditional and Rising Power-Mehmet Cem Oğultürk-Rising Powers in Global Governance (2018)