Russia’s FM Lavrov woes Africa with latest tour


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is doing another African tour to boost Russia’s image and try and dampen resistance from countries which gave Moscow the cold shoulder when it invaded Ukraine.

Lavrov visited Mali early last year and pledged military support which made it hugely popular with the Junta while spooking ECOWAS the West African union of largely western-aligned African nations. But most will remember Lavrov in Africa for last year, when he visited South Africa – seen as the most significant of several African nations to take a neutral stance on the war in Ukraine –returning shortly after to attend a meeting of BRICS bloc nations. Lavrov late last year toured North Africa, where Russia also aims to strengthen ties in the vacuum created by the diminishing popularity of Western powers. Notably, he did not visit Morocco despite very good relations with Rabat which defies US secondary sanctions and buys its oil from Russia.

In West Africa, the military junta governing Burkina Faso ousted French forces last year and turned to Russia for security support. And then in Niger, Russian military trainers arrived weeks after the junta that took power last year ordered US troops to withdraw from the country. 

Niger has since turned to Russia to seek advice on security.

READ: Algeria concerned about Russia and Turkey’s Mali strategy

Lavrov arrived in Guinea on June 3rd on the first leg of a three-country African tour aimed at boosting support for Moscow. He is also expected to visit Congo although it is unsure about which countries are also on the list.

The trip comes as Moscow looks to bolster support from countries on the continent, amidst Russian isolation on the world stage.

After its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia saw its relations with the West plummet.

While the African Union and several African capitals opposed Russia’s stance, more than half of African countries, including Guinea, abstained from UN resolutions calling for a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

In July last year, Russian president Vladimir Putin hosted several African heads of government at the second Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg which annoyed the Biden administration, not to mention France’s President Emmanuel Macron. 

READ: Russia vetoes UN sanctions against Mali

During the summit, Russia made promises focused on delivering grain to a number of African countries, while also declaration an intention to strengthen economic and security cooperation between Moscow and the continent.

According to AFP, Russia’s main economic interests in Africa have centred on its grains, arms, extractives, and nuclear power exports.

More than 70 per cent of all Russian trade with Africa in 2021 was carried out in just four countries—Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and South Africa.

African News/AFP/Le Monde


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