Russia's Plan for Making Friends in Africa

Jun 15, 2019 | 09:30 GMT

Angolan President Joao Lourenco, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchange documents during a signing ceremony in Moscow on April 4, 2019.

Angolan President Joao Lourenco, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchange documents during a signing ceremony in Moscow on April 4. As Russia pushes to play a greater role on the global stage, the Kremlin has developed a robust strategy for influencing African leaders and strengthening ties across the continent.

(MIKHAIL METZEL/TASS via Getty Images)


  • Russia will continue to execute its broad-spectrum diplomacy strategy across Africa, using both political interactions and economic, security and diplomacy engagements to secure alliances.
  • Moscow has limited resources to devote to its Africa strategy, but it will benefit from its ability to exploit African leaders' concerns over cooperation with the West or China.
  • Russia will more regularly compete with other global great powers in Africa, engaging in direct confrontations as well as complex domestic political competitions in the countries they back.

Since Russian private military contractors began appearing in the Central African Republic in 2018, Russia's strategic ambitions in Africa have grown with every interaction between Moscow and any actors on the continent. For a long time after the end of the Cold War, Africa was relatively unimportant to Russia's foreign policy. But as Russia began moving into a new international role over the past five years, Africa has returned to prominence in Moscow's foreign policy because of its value to Russia's goals in the global great power competition. And though Russia has fewer resources than its competitors for fostering ties with African nations, it also offers more flexibility and fewer strings attached....

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