September 22, 2023

Russia Bolsters African Partnerships, Countering Western Influence Amid Ukraine Conflict

Russia is actively seeking to strengthen its partnerships across Africa, gaining ground against Western influence on the continent amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, Newsweek reported on May 26, quoting Oleg Ozerov, Russian ambassador-at-large and head of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, who highlighted two significant developments: the Russia-Africa Interparliamentary Conference and a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, both of which demonstrated Russia’s growing ties with Africa.

Ozerov emphasized that African nations understand the complex dynamics of the conflict in Ukraine and view Russia’s actions as part of a larger shift in the global order, and that despite Western accusations of aggression and imperialism, Russia’s efforts to develop equal partnerships and promote Africa’s domestic energy and electricity markets are well-received on the continent.

According to Newsweek, while Western nations continue to isolate Russia and impose sanctions over the war in Ukraine, Russia is reshaping the world order in Africa by expanding its influence and strengthening partnerships. In addition, African countries, including those in the Global South, are increasingly neutral and resistant to Western narratives about Russia’s alleged aggression. The upcoming Russia-Africa Summit in July is expected to further reflect Africa’s emerging priorities and further solidify Russia’s support in the region.

Besides, Russia’s historical ties, support for decolonization efforts, and focus on energy development resonate with African nations seeking to channel their resources for their own development rather than serving as suppliers of raw materials for the West.

Below are 10 takeaways from Russia-Africa ties

  1. Russia is actively seeking to strengthen partnerships across Africa as the United States and Western allies isolate Russia over its ongoing war in Ukraine.
  2. The Kremlin’s campaign in Africa appears to be gaining ground, with high-level interactions and events demonstrating Russia’s growing influence.
  3. Russia’s actions in Ukraine are seen by African officials as part of a larger confrontation between different visions of the future, rather than a simple feud between neighbors.
  4. The Global South, including Africa, has maintained a neutral stance on the Ukraine conflict, indicating a shift towards a multipolar world order.
  5. Western narratives about an “aggressive” and “imperialistic” Russia have little effect outside of its sphere of influence, according to Oleg Ozerov, the Russian ambassador-at-large.
  6. The United States has criticized Russia’s presence in Africa, linking it to rising food and commodity prices that have disproportionately impacted African countries.
  7. The upcoming Russia-Africa Summit in July is expected to showcase Russia’s support for African countries’ local solutions, national interests, and their desire to break free from globalist constraints.
  8. Russia has a historical connection to Africa through its support for Soviet-era liberation movements and seeks to expand upon this legacy.
  9. Russia aims to assist in the development of Africa’s domestic energy and electricity markets, particularly in nuclear energy, rather than viewing the continent solely as a source of raw materials.
  10. African countries have shown a growing interest in security ties with Russia and the Wagner Group, with a shift away from Western-led interventions.
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