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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Russia is expanding its influence in Africa

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While NATO is focusing on the war in Ukraine, Russia has opened a second front against the West in Africa, effectively driving it out of there – notes the British weekly “Spectator”, explaining that this mainly concerns migration issues and destabilizing the situation in these countries, not the presence of Russian soldiers. In the opinion of “Spectator”, the current situation in Sudan is a good example of this thesis.

Russia depends on gold mines in Sudan and in exchange for minerals, it offers humanitarian aid, scholarships and trade deals. But this is only apparent help because it “fuels the bloody civil war and power struggle that began in April last year and has displaced 10 million Sudanese and forced 18 million into starvation,” notes the British weekly Spectator, adding that it has become obvious that Russia is creating chaos on the African continent as part of a conscious strategy to destabilize Europe.

Interference Vladimir Putin it now extends from Guinea in west Africa, through Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, to Sudan and Somalia on the east.

Zimbabwe must also be added to this list. Last July, the president of the southern African country, Emmerson Mnangagwa, met Putin in St. Petersburg and told him that Zimbabwe “stands in solidarity with the Russian Federation in a special military operation (the Kremlin’s propaganda term for the invasion) in Ukraine.”

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Russia is also favored by the government that has been in power for 30 years South Africa The African National Congress (ANC), whose secretary general, Fikile Mbalula, debated in Moscow for three days about “new manifestations of Western colonialism” at the time of Alexei Navalny’s murder.

Perhaps the only country whose foreign minister explicitly declared in 2023 that he would never open a Russian embassy is Liberia.

In a report on Russia’s growing presence in Africa in January 2022, the French daily Le Monde wondered whether this meant “the beginning of a strategic shift in which the new ‘Russafrique’ will support ‘Chinafrique’ in an anti-Western conspiracy.”

Moscow is seeking access to strategically important natural resources

The BBC report published on Tuesday confirms that the French newspaper’s predictions are becoming a fact. “Russia, in exchange for access to strategically important natural resources, is offering African governments a ‘regime survival package’,” the British station reported.

Internal Russian government documents accessed by the BBC detail how Moscow is influencing – for example – mining regulations in West African countries, with the ambition to displace Western companies from strategically important areas.

According to the station, this is part of the process of the Russian government taking over the activities of the Wagner Group mercenaries, which were dismantled after the failed coup in June 2023.

“Russia is coming out of the shadows in its African policy,” the BBC quotes Jack Watling, a land war specialist at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank and one of the authors of the published report.

Russians in AfricaForum

Operations in Africa under the supervision of Averyanov

Watling recalled that “a meeting was held in the Kremlin shortly after the elimination of (Wagner Group chief) Yevgeny Prigozhin, during which it was decided that operations in Africa would fall directly under the control of Russian military intelligence, the GRU.”

– he added – they will be supervised by General Andrei Averyanov, head of the secret unit 29155, specializing in assassinations and destabilization of foreign governments.

However, it seems that Averyanov’s new African business does not destabilize the governments, but rather secures their future – as long as they paid, i.e. transferred the rights to extract precious minerals to Russia, Watling explained.

Averyanov, taking over Prigozhin’s legacy, last fall began a journey through the places where the Wagner Group had previously marked its presence.

“He started in Libya, the next stop was Burkina Faso, where he was welcomed by 35-year-old coup leader Ibrahim Traore. He later landed in the Central African Republic and then went to Mali to meet the local junta leaders,” the BBC calculated.

During his next trip, he met with General Salifou Modi, one of the officers of the junta that took power in Niger in 2023.

These visits were intended – according to the BBC – to reassure African leaders that the end of Prigozhin did not mean the end of his business deals. On the contrary.

Russia exports tons of gold from Africa

Russians offer protection and military training to the junta. According to Watling, “there is a standard Russian modus operandi, which is to cover operating costs with parallel business activities. In Africa, this is done primarily through mining concessions.”

In every country where Russian mercenaries operate, their main task is to secure valuable natural resources, which they use not only to cover the costs of operations carried out on site. They must also bring significant income to Russians.

Since February 2022, Russia has exported tons of gold worth the equivalent of $2.5 billion from just three African countries (Mali, Sudan and the Central African Republic), which probably helped finance war in Ukraine – according to the research report Blood Gold Report, in which an international group of scientists analyzed the connections between Western mining companies, authoritarian African governments and Russian mercenaries.

Main photo source: Forum



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