Russia’s Position in Africa Isn’t as Strong as It Looks

Russia’s Position in Africa Isn’t as Strong as It Looks
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi arrive for a meeting on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic and Humanitarian Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 27, 2023 (Sputnik photo by Alexei Danichev via AP).

Reports emerge weekly that Russian influence in Africa is growing. As African-Western relations become more strained, Russian disinformation campaigns interfere in local politics while mercenaries fulfill the security needs of military rulers and profit from looting gold, or so most accounts go.

Russian diplomats and mercenaries are welcomed in West African capitals and American and European diplomats talk continually about how to face the challenge of the emergence of Moscow as a strategic player in Africa. Observers talk of a “Russian conquest” of Africa and “Russian-controlled governments” on the continent.

Beyond the headlines, however, Russia’s position is weaker and less profitable than reported. Purported political and economic gains are more doubtful if examined in greater detail.

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