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Open Source Backgrounder: Russian Strategy in Sub-Sahara Africa, Military & Industrial Partnerships-What is Russia Up To?

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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
  • Grenades
  • 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

Sudan

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
  • Agriculture
  • 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)

Ethiopia

What Transactions is Russia Making With Ethiopia?

  • Transportation projects
  • Nuclear energy
  • Agriculture (Reuters, 2018)

Chad

What Transactions is Russia Making With Chad?

  • Energy projects in Chad (Reuters, 2018)

Zimbabwe

What Transactions is Russia Making With Zimbabwe?

  • Diamond and platinum projects (Reuters, 2018)

Kenya

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)

Newsweek

“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)

Bloomberg

Russia is attempting to restore Soviet era influence throughout the developing world (Bloomberg, 2018)

Strategic Culture

Moscow considers relations with the African Union an issue of special importance (Strategic Culture, 2018)

Washington Post

Russian is delivering success where western countries have failed and is optimistic African counties will notice and contract Russian resources (Washington Post, 2018)

Financial Times

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)

Resources

Russia’s Growing Influence in Sub-Saharan Africa- ARKADY SAVITSKY-Strategic Culture (2018) https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/06/05/russia-growing-influence-in-sub-saharan-africa.html

Journalists’ deaths highlight Russia’s moves into Africa- Max Seddon and Tom Wilson-Financial Times (2018) https://www.ft.com/content/7e55b796-9cac-11e8-9702-5946bae86e6d

Battle for Africa’: Russia Pushes Into ‘Free Country for the Taking’ In Attempt to Rival the West- JACK LOSH AND OWEN MATHEWS-Newsweek (2018) https://www.newsweek.com/2018/08/17/russia-putin-africa-kremlin-central-republic-devastated-power-dynamic-1061066.html

There’s a new battle for influence in Central Africa, and Russia appears to be winning- Cassandra Vinograd-The Washington Post (2018) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/05/31/theres-a-new-battle-for-influence-in-central-africa-and-russia-appears-to-be-winning/?utm_term=.2c46c184d713

Death, Diamonds and Russia’s Africa Project-Leonid Bershidsky-Bloomberg (2018) https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-08-04/russia-in-africa-death-diamonds-and-intrigue

How Russia moved into Central Africa-Aaron Ross-Reuters (2018) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-africa-russia-insight/how-russia-moved-into-central-africa-idUSKCN1MR0KA

Russia’s Renewed Interests in the Horn of Africa As a Traditional and Rising Power-Mehmet Cem Oğultürk-Rising Powers in Global Governance (2018) http://risingpowersproject.com/quarterly/russias-renewed-interests-in-the-horn-of-africa-as-a-traditional-and-rising-power/

 

Categories: Russia - Africa

About the Author(s)

De Faakto is an intelligence research observatory that monitors open sources & develops situational awareness intelligence products that support the defense & security industries, emergency first responders and allied services. De Faakto is founded by a former soldier, intelligence analyst and paramedic with experience in land, air ambulance and overseas military operations.

Comments

Much as with the U.S./the West's grand strategies of "containment" and "roll back" versus the Soviets/the communists' "expansionist" designs during the Old Cold War -- likewise with the current Russian and Chinese grand strategies of "containment" and "roll back" versus the U.S./the West's "expansionist" designs today -- these such efforts would seem to be undertaken to:

a.  Prevent one's opponent from gaining greater power, influence and control throughout the world; this,

c.  By preventing such an opponent from transforming the outlying states, societies, civilizations and regions of the world more along the opponent's (thought to be in some way contrary to one's interests) political, economic, social and value lines.

Thus: 

a.  What the U.S./the West did to the Soviets/the communists during the Old Cold War -- and why -- this:

b.  Would seem to be exact same thing that Russia and China are attempting to do to the U.S./the West today; herein,

1.  Using the exact same (highly successful?) strategies (see "containment" and "roll back" above) and, this,

2.  For the exact same (highly successful?) reason (see the "containment" -- or the downfall -- of  the opponent state)?

("Turn about," after all, being considered to be exceptionally "fair play?")