Why Russia wins some support in Africa and the Middle East
In 2019, Putin invited 43 African leaders to the first Russia-Africa summit, a larger attendance than previous gatherings in the United Kingdom or France.
At the Sochi party, Russian President Vladimir Putin chastised the West for imposing “political or other requirements” on African nations, a reference to criticism of human rights. “We have a lot to give our African neighbors,” Mr Putin remarked.
Russia is attempting to sell armaments, exploit resources, and prop up unstable African regimes, but African nations believe it does not have enough to give.
The United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although several African nations did not participate.
According to mobile phone polls conducted by The Economist last week in six African countries and obtained by NCMP, ordinary Africans blame Russia the most for the conflict.
The votes at the UN show historical relations between Russia and southern African governing parties, and the nations abstained while Ukraine was a member of the Soviet Union.
In the Horn of Africa, there is a sense of nostalgia for the past. The NATO action in Libya has further fueled these emotions.
Africa’s connections with Russia are motivated by self-interest rather than history or philosophy. Wagner Group forces are stationed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in return for gold and diamonds.
The Mali junta has turned to Wagner, and Europe’s attention to the Sahel is waning due to the situation in Ukraine, providing an opening for Wagner.
Guinea is uniquely reliant on Russia; Rusal has halted operations at its Ukrainian refinery, which processes bauxite produced in Guinea.
Sudanese generals, who are said to acquire gold from Russia, may stage a protest against the Russian-backed junta in the coming months.
Russia has increased its commerce with Africa by establishing an Africa-focused trade organization and investing in a development bank.
Russia is one of several players in Angola’s foreign policy portfolio, which also includes China, the IMF, and Alrosa, a Russian miner.
Ethiopia and Russia are in a similar situation, with Russia providing armaments and Gazprom expressing interest in a project in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali area.
The UAE, Egypt, and other Gulf nations abstained in the UN Security Council vote, while the Arab League made no mention of Russia.
Saudi Arabia is eager to keep OPEC+ together, while Egypt has moved to diversify by purchasing Russian fighter fighters.
Gulf nations have depended on America for security, but they believe it has flaws. African nations are unlikely to face repercussions for their stance on Ukraine.
Russian energy companies will struggle to obtain funds, and if they are not purchasing Russian hydrocarbons, they are unlikely to be interested in African transactions.
The VIP roster for the forthcoming Russia-Africa meeting may not contain many “African pals” for Mr Putin.