Russia’s growing assertiveness in Africa has caused alarm in Washington, Paris, and other European capitals. Wagner Group mercenaries are operating in Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali, and moving to enter Burkina Faso. African countries have resisted pressure from the United States and European Union to isolate Russia in response to its brutal invasion of Ukraine. Yet, the story of Russia’s involvement in Africa is one of linear resurgence. The trade and investment deals that were announced at the 2019 Sochi Summit have largely not materialized, sanctions threaten Russia’s dominance as an arms vendor to Africa, and allegations of complicity in war crimes in Mali and Central African Republic threaten to undermine Russia’s soft power on the continent.
Samuel Ramani’s new book, Russia in Africa: Resurgent Great Power or Bellicose Pretender, examines the critical question, “is Russia an emerging great power in Africa that can act as a spoiler to US foreign policy goals, or an opportunistic spoiler (a chimera in effect) whose influence relies on shallow foundations?” Ramani’s book addresses this question by laying out the history of Russia-Africa relations since 1991, and explaining the enduring and shifting foundations of Russian influence on the continent.
Ramani joins FPRI Africa Program chair Charles Ray to discuss this question and explore whether Russia’s influence in Africa can survive its military setbacks in Ukraine and international sanctions complicate Moscow’s engagement with regional powers on the continent.
Charles A. Ray - Charles A. Ray, a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Africa Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, served as US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Zimbabwe.