At a time when Russia is conducting its cruel invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is building his base in Africa. It is doing it so effectively that China is watching Moscow’s actions not without emotion. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.
At a time when the entire western world is looking towards Ukraine, Russia is strengthening its influence in Africa. – Post-Cold War diplomatic contacts Russia they still exist and are good – believes Marek Wąsiński, head of the World Economy Team of the Polish Economic Institute.
And they are supposed to be even better because Vladimir Putin looks for potential allies wherever it can. On several levels, it perfectly plays out the colonial past and anti-European moods in Africa.
Leon Pińczak from the Institute of New Europe claims that one of them is bilateral agreements. – First of all, concerning the military sphere, some training of soldiers. The second forum is the Wagner Group, which implements the interests of the Kremlin and the third sphere is the sphere of the economy and in the present context also the issue of the food crisis – he adds.
Russia has various military agreements signed with over 30 countries in Africa. In some, it plans to build military bases. Half of the weapons purchased on the continent come from Russia.
Russia is expanding its influence in Africa
Experts point out that since the annexation of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been deploying his Wagner Group mercenaries to Africa. – A private armed corporation, with the support of the Kremlin, is involved where the Kremlin cannot officially get involved, explains Professor Andrzej Polus from the Institute of International Studies at the University of Wrocław.
Moscow is most willing to engage in unstable states affected by conflicts. There, the Wagner Group offers protection for the rulers or the fight against terrorism. “It is able to organize a campaign on the Internet for rulers through the famous Russian troll farms,” explains Professor Polus. – It is able to train both local politicians and local armed forces – he adds.
– This is a very good example Mali, where the Wagner Group was officially invited by the Malian government – emphasizes Leon Pińczak. Hence, at the beginning of the year, the French finally withdrew their troops.
According to experts, Russia is building not only in Africa military and political base, but also unofficially uses the rich deposits of raw materials and thus reduces the effects of sanctions imposed by the West. – The Wagnerites are recently very much involved in the protection of gold mines in Sudan and gold is exported from there, for example to the United Arab Emirates, Sudanese gold, but with a significant Russian contribution – says Professor Polus.
Russian propaganda is very active in Africa
Russia’s actions are closely watched by China, which over the last 30 years has been building its sphere of influence in Africa, especially in the economy. – These are investment channels, loan channels. About 40 percent of African debt is in Chinese hands, explains Marek Wąsiński.
And this is what – as experts have pointed out – that China supports the Kremlin’s propaganda, which blames Western countries directly for the food crisis. – We are fighting the disinformation campaign of Putin and China, this crisis is not related to sanctions – said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The same was explained by EU leaders to the head of the African Union at their summit in May. A few days later, Macky Sall was already in Sochi and there he openly criticized the “anti-Russian sanctions”. Russia has always been on the side of Africa, it has always supported its fight against colonialism, argued Vladimir Putin at the time.
Leon Pińczak is concerned that in Africa, Russian propaganda is winning over the European narrative. When a resolution condemning Russia’s aggression was voted on in early March at the UN forum, 16 African states abstained, and one – Eritrea – was against.
According to experts, this is a clear signal to the West that it must offer Africa more – both militarily and economically.
Main photo source: Reuters Archive