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Russia strengthens its military influence in Africa and challenges the United States and France

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – August 8, 2020: Ethiopians condemn rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) at a pro-government rally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan I hold a poster.

Minas Wondim Hail / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Russia is challenging Africa’s status quo, using anxiety and diplomatic conflicts with Western countries as a starting point to expand its presence on the African continent.

From Libya to Nigeria and Ethiopia to Mali, Moscow has built an increasingly favorable reputation in recent years with a major strategic military alliance across Africa.

At the heart of this effort is providing alternatives to countries that have become dissatisfied with Western diplomatic partnerships.

The 2nd Russia-Africa summit is scheduled for 2022. At the first summit in Sochi in 2019, President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia “will not participate in the new” subdivision “of continental wealth. On the contrary, we are ready. to get involved. “We are competing for cooperation with Africa.”

Through the United Nations, Russia has also provided assistance in the form of food and medical aid, as well as expanding trade, economic and military assistance across the continent.

Bilateral push from Russia

In the past two months alone, Russia signed a military cooperation agreement with Ethiopia, the two most populous countries in Nigeria and Africa.

NOT. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Africa is estimated to have accounted for 18% of Russia’s arms exports between 2016 and 2020.

Russian mercenaries also provided direct assistance to the Libyan and Central African governments, According to the United Nations.. However, the Kremlin has denied ties to the Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization claimed by the United Nations to support human rights violations in the region.

A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said: “A group of Russian instructors has been sent to the CAR at the request of their leaders to the knowledge of the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee on the CAR established by the CAR. resolution 2127. ”. “Obviously, none of them participated in combat operations. “

Reuters reported in July that U.S. lawmakers had stalled planned $ 1 billion in arms sales to Nigeria amid government allegations of human rights violations.

In less than a month, Russia signed an agreement with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to provide the Nigerian military with military equipment, training and technology.

Members of the Moscow-Nigeria delegation inspect the Russian military helicopter Mill Mi-28NE Nighthunter on the first day of the MAKS-2021 International Aerospace Show in Jukovsky, a suburb of Moscow, July 20, 2021. ..

DIMITARDIL KOFF / AFP via Getty Images

Historically the main diplomatic and trade partner of the United States, the Buhari administration has found itself in conflict with Washington. #EndSARS 2020 event, And even later Recent fallout on Twitter..

Meanwhile, Islamic extremist groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa continue to wreak havoc in the northeast of the country.

This confluence of factors paving the way for building Russian influence has also been active in Ethiopia. Russia Government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed back Western government resisted military response from its military In the rebellion in northern Tigray.

Ethiopia, especially the United States, Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken further angered Addis Ababa in March by accusing the Tigray army of “ethnic cleansing”.

After that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonn in June. Moscow advanced Ethiopian Election Observer,on the other hand, The EU withdraws its observer, “Violence continues across the country, human rights violations and political tensions, harassment of media workers and detained opposition members. “

Sochi, Russia-October 23, 2019: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (4th L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) during the Russia-Africa Summit 2019 at the Sirius Science Park Art during a meeting with a spectator.

Donut Solokin via Getty Images TASS

Russia has provided strategic nuclear weapons as a potential defense against Egyptian strikes against GERD and to support government forces in Tigray.

“The interests of the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), which have occupied parts of the Afar and Amharic regions in recent weeks, have made it increasingly important for Addis Ababa to provide the weapons we urgently need, and Moscow might need such a request. Probably buy now and pay later. Said Lou Nell, senior policy analyst at NKC African Economics.

Among those reported by Nell as “signs to come”, Ethiopia and Russia signed a military cooperation agreement in July, with particular emphasis on the transfer of knowledge and technology. However, Nell said Ethiopia “is reluctant to allow Russian personnel to be stationed there for purposes other than training capacity.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry could not get immediate comment when contacted by CNBC.

“Creeping accumulation” in the United States

According to a recent report by the risk intelligence firm Pangea, the United States has pledged to rekindle its economic and trade involvement in Africa, but the gaps the military predicted include significant spending on operational bases. We are giving way to long-term plans to maintain our strategic-danger presence.

In 2018, then-US national security adviser John Bolton had chosen the Russian expansionist “Impact on Africa as a whole”, and Washington was keen to maintain its presence on the continent.

The Biden administration is expected to maintain 27 US military bases on the African continent, and the African military (Africom) is prioritizing counterterrorism targets in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region.

The United States has also established a presence in other regions of strategic importance, such as the Red Sea and the Gulf of Guinea. A few By 2025, $ 330 million would have been spent. About infrastructure projects related to the construction of US military bases while Africom is developing a 20-year strategic plan.

He protects US trade interests in the face of a growing presence in China and Russia, while focusing on counterterrorism, special forces operations and humanitarian aid.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his staff will attend a virtual bilateral conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during a video conference at the State Department in Washington, DC on April 27, 2021. ..

LEAHMILLIS / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

The report indicates that authorities in Cape Verde have agreed to a SOFA with the US military to allow the US military to operate from the archipelago since July 2020.

“Such an agreement makes sense given the need to counter global geopolitical competition in the West African region and the increased risk of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Both are in the commercial interest of the United States. It is a threat that exists in the Gulf of Guinea, ”said Robert Besseling, CEO of Pangea Risk.

“But the SOFA a year ago with Cape Verde raises questions about the broader US diplomatic and judicial involvement in the country and whether this sets the model for future US-Africa relations. ”

Comfortero, director of the Africa program of the International Crisis Group, said that the “creeping build-up” of the US military on the continent blamed the US and African governments for the lack of transparency and came with a mixed message.

Pangea Risk said the United States should phase out its direct military presence in unstable hotspots, but continues to seek SOFA deals with strategically important countries. , Washington added that it is reluctant to withdraw completely due to its presence in China and Russia.

France is fighting in the Sahel

France maintains the largest presence and the largest number of troops in the former colonial forces in Africa, notably in the form of an army of 5,100 men in the Sahel, where the border areas of Mali, Burkina Faso and the Niger are hotbeds of violence. I am.

“Paris is inconsistent in its amicable regime and spoils the unconstitutional transfer of power to Chad, but has adopted a stricter policy following the coup in Mali,” NKC’s Nell said. paddy field.

French President Emmanuel Macron Transition led by the military of President Chad Idriss DviTo his son, who was killed in a battle with the rebels in April. This violated the national constitution and led to anti-French protests and vandalism of total gas stations.

Pau, France-French President Emmanuel Macron (left) greets President Idris Devi of Chad on January 13, 2020, ahead of the summit on the situation in the Sahel region of the city of Pau, southern France.

GEORGES GOBET / AFP via Getty Images

However, Colonel Assimi Goita establishes a military junta in Mali, Macron accused the coup and suspended joint military operations with the Malian army. The protests that followed were also hostile to France, but the Russian flag and poster were visible.

“Given the apparent negative trends in Mali’s political stability, there is reason to consider the danger that it might resemble the CAR, where the weak government of President Faustin-Archanget Tuadera is essentially held up by Russian muscles: the Jeffgeny’s mercenary Prigodin’s Wagner group. ”

Russia strengthens its military influence in Africa and challenges the United States and France

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