Oct 22: Russia influence in Africa summit
October 3, 2019 - Russia is steadily building its influence across Africa, increasing arms sales, deploying military instructors and securing alliances in exchange for mining rights, oil and nuclear power projects. Russia will host its first-ever pan-African summit in the city of Sochi on October 22.
Russia has signed at more than 16 military cooperation deals with governments in Africa since it came under Western sanctions for annexing Crimea in 2014.
In 2017, 13 per cent of Russia’s total arms exports valued at $8.65 billion went to Africa, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Of these, $6.92 billion were destined for Algeria.
Last year Egypt signed a $2 billion deal for 20 Russian SU-35 next-generation fighters, and Burkina Faso took delivery of Russian-made military transport helicopters and air-launched weapons. Four other sub-Saharan countries -- Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania -- have signed up to counter-terrorism deals with Moscow to combat so-called Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
In addition to arms sales, Moscow is aggressively pushing nuclear power diplomacy. Egypt signed a $28.75 billion contract with Russia’s state-owned atomic vendor -- Rosatom -- in 2017 for the construction of four reactors at El Dabaa.
Eight other Africa states have signed agreements to deploy nuclear power in deals with Rosatom since 2016.
A shadowy mercenary army, which takes orders from an oligarch in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, is also shaping Russia’s foreign policy in Africa. The Wagner Group, linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin -- is reportedly active in the Central African Republic (CAR), Sudan and Libya.
In CAR, Wagner is training troops in return for cut-price mining rights for gold and diamonds. While in Libya, Wagner is supporting strongman Khalifa Haftar’s fight for control of Tripoli and the government’s vast oil market.
The Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, co-chaired by Putin and Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, will likely strengthen Russia’s renewed Africa interest.
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