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Military mission to Russia explores new frontier: Africa
Material posted: Publication date: 08-04-2019
"Russia has been steadily expanding its military influence across Africa, instilling concern to Western officials by increased sales of weapons, by agreements on security and training programs for unstable countries or authoritarian leaders," The New York Times.

"In the Central African Republic, where the President's adviser on national security was appointed the Russian, the government sells the mining rights of gold and diamonds for a small fraction of the cost to hire trainers and buy weapons from Moscow. Russia is trying to gain a foothold on the southern flank of NATO, helping the former General in Libya fight for control of their government and the huge oil market, - the newspaper reminds. - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in January attracted Russian mercenaries with the objective of promoting the strengthening of its authority in the backdrop of nationwide protests. But last spring five countries of Africa South of the Sahara - Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania - turned to Moscow with a request to help its overburdened military and security forces to fight "Islamic state" and "al-Qaeda" (both organizations are banned in Russia - Approx. ed.)".

"Russia, rooted in Africa during the fierce competition between East and West in the cold war, has largely retreated from the continent after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But in the last two years, Moscow has resumed relations with clients of the Soviet era, such as Mozambique and Angola, and has established new relationships with other countries. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin at the end of this year, will hold a meeting at the highest level between Moscow and African countries, - specifies the edition. - Expansion of military influence on the continent reflects the broader vision of Putin returning Russia to its former glory. But at the same time it illustrates and opportunistic strategy of Russia for obtaining logistical and political gains in Africa where and when possible."

"(...) The killing of three Russian journalists by unknown persons in the Central African Republic, a former French colony, last year drew attention to the return of the Kremlin on the continent, writes The New York Times. Journalists investigated the activities of private military group "Wagner" (...) In a statement last year, Russia indicated that 175 instructors - which, in the opinion of the officials of the Pentagon and Western analysts, a "Wagner" - has trained more than 1,000 troops to the Central African Republic. (...)"

"Moscow and its private military contractors are arming some of the weakest governments in the region and support the authoritarian rulers of the continent, says Judd Devermont, the Director of the Africa program at the Center for strategic and international studies in Washington. - This interaction threatens to exacerbate the current conflict zone."

"The military forces of the United States represented in Africa relatively few troops, the paper reported. About 6 thousand of US troops and 1,000 civilians or contractors of the Ministry of defence are working in various missions throughout Africa, mainly, teaching and conducting exercises with local armies. Moscow cannot compete with American foreign aid or large-scale investment efforts by China on the continent. But analysts say the Russian move as an opportunity and a need to move in Africa. Russia is looking for new strategic base for its forces, including the Libyan ports on the Mediterranean sea and in naval logistics centres in Eritrea and the Sudan on the Red sea, according to the analysis of the Institute for the study of war, a research organization in Washington. Last year Russia signed agreements on military cooperation with Guinea, Burkina Faso, Burundi and Madagascar. In addition, the government of Mali appealed to Moscow for help in the fight against terrorism, despite the fact that in the country there are thousands of French soldiers and UN peacekeepers".

"According to the Stockholm international Institute of peace studies, 13% of total Russian arms exports in 2017 was sent to Africa. Russia wants to conclude agreements about arms shipments across Africa, promising timely delivery and flexible terms - a strategy that, according to analysts, is the most successful when it focuses on States that have few alternatives for achieving defense agreements with other partners because they have been isolated by the United States and other countries in the West, - says the publication. - According to Pentagon officials, nearly 80% of all Russian military sales in the continent accounted for Algeria, a longtime buyer. Tunisia, a US ally, also has close intelligence, counter-terrorism and energy ties with Russia. And last year, Burkina Faso has taken delivery of military transport helicopters of the Russian production and weapons airborne. Egypt, a loyal American ally, has also become a regular customer of Russian weapons. At the end of 2018 Egypt signed an agreement to purchase Russian su-35 fighters for $ 2 billion, announced in March, the Moscow newspaper "Kommersant". (...) In the West, particular attention was paid to relations between Russia and the Central African Republic. The two countries signed a military cooperation agreement last year, and the mercenary band "Wagner" began to emerge in the Central African Republic".

The newspaper mentions about the meeting of Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Mikhail Bogdanov, President of the Central African Republic foster-Arcanum Couderay and the statement about increasing aid to the country, which will include the training of national personnel and the strengthening of security and stability. "This statement provoked a cool response from senior French officials. "We are very concerned about the growing Russian influence in the country, which we know well, in the Central African Republic", - told reporters during a recent visit to Washington Florence parley, the Minister of the armed forces of France."

"Russia is also looking for new economic markets and energy resources, in some cases, renewing relations with the countries that existed in Soviet times. According to the Pentagon, Russia has major oil and gas interests in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria. "They're trying to get trophies," said last year at a security conference at the University of Texas at Austin General Tony Thomas, who on Friday resigned as head of the command of the special forces of the Pentagon. They are very active."

Eric Schmitt


Tags: assessment , Africa

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