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Exports of Russian weaponry in Africa
Material posted: Publication date: 25-04-2020
In the middle of the last century were preconditions for the successful development of diplomatic relations between the USSR and Africa. The Soviet Union supported the desire of regional States to achieve independence, and they, in turn, acted as natural allies of the Soviet regime in the period of confrontation between two powerful military-political blocs.

As a result of decolonization on the political map of the world by the end of the twentieth century there were over forty new sovereign States on the territory of which, however, there were a number of problems caused by the inability of African societies to effectively present and defend their national interests on the world political arena due to the lack of necessary experience.

Soviet support of the young African States was mainly in military-technical cooperation (further – MTC), assistance in preparation of professional personnel, promotion of national economies. The most close diplomatic contacts were established with the countries that have chosen the socialist path of development: Angola, Guinea, Ghana, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, etc.

With the beginning of the cold war, African States were involved in a global confrontation over the division of spheres of influence between the USSR and the USA, the characteristic feature of which was the arms race. Fueled by the ideological confrontation of the two superpowers arms transfers to Africa have led to the militarization of the region, the escalation of internal problems of the continent, the emergence of fierce civil wars.

After the collapse of the USSR and formal end of the cold war the situation has changed. The supply of arms to Africa by the Russian Federation, the successor of the USSR – was reduced. However, throughout the African countries was a large quantity of arms and military equipment of Soviet production, which was in need of repair and modernization. In this regard, the support and development of relations with Africa remained among the priorities of Russian foreign policy. Today, our country provides support to African partners in this regard, including the military-technical sphere.

In the conditions of growing geopolitical importance of the African region in the twenty-first century has significantly increased competition the key players in the international weapons market. Nevertheless, Russia continues to maintain cooperation with most African countries. As of 2020, Russia has agreements on military-technical cooperation with over thirty countries in the African continent, which supplied high-performance and modern weapons and military equipment [1]. Thus, Russia stands as one of the main suppliers of military-technical products in the African market: 35% of the weapons used by the African military is Russian in origin. It should be noted also that a part of deliveries to Russia on a gratuitous basis, which is positively perceived by African partners.

The largest African importers of Russian weapons are Algeria (helicopters, tanks, submarines), Angola (fighters, tanks, artillery, ammunition, and military ammunition), Egypt fighter jets, missile defense systems, helicopters), Uganda (tanks, missile defense systems) [2]. Deliveries are also carried out in Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, South Africa.

The success and high competitiveness of Russian military-technical products due to the following factors:

  1. Samples of the Russian military-technical products cheaper than their Western counterparts.
  2. Russian military-technical products demonstrate high quality, reliability and efficiency.
  3. Modern Russian military-technical products are fully compatible with the reserves accumulated on the African continent for the period of the cold war.

In conclusion, we note that over the past few years Russia has managed to achieve considerable success in the development of partnership relations with African States. In addition to the supply of military-technical products in the region are also opened service centers maintenance and modernization of weapons and military equipment, developed and implemented a joint Russian-African program of VTS. All of this is not only for the commercial interests of Russia, but also demonstrates the readiness of our country to establish long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation with African States even in the face of increased competition of world powers for the division of spheres of influence in the region.

Zerizer Catherine

The list of sources

  1. The summit Russia – Africa // the Official website of the President of Russia. Mode of access:
  2. The proceedings of XVIII all-Russian school of young Africanists. Moscow, 26-27 November 2019.


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