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Lavrov in Africa: How is Russia’s multipolar vision being realised?

Russian Foreign Minister started his visit to the continent with and the

By Egountchi Behanzin, founding president of the international organization African Black Defense League, spokesperson for the Pan-African Brothers, political analyst, and Pan-African activist

©  Telegram/MID_Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s African tour embodies the clear intention of President Vladimir Putin and to strengthen diplomatic ties on the continent, despite geopolitical tensions and Western pressure on African countries that cooperate with . This strategic initiative comes at a time when geopolitical dynamics are undergoing significant changes, providing Russia with a unique opportunity to assert its partnership and support, and to expand its network of alliances with African countries.

Understanding Moscow’s policy in Africa

First, it is essential, in my view, to understand Russia’s African policy: Russia enjoys a very positive image and is well-regarded by some leaders and, more importantly, by many African populations. This appreciation can be attributed to several historical and contemporary factors. Historically, during the Cold War, the USSR supported African countries against colonization and many liberation movements in , leaving a lasting impression of anti-imperialist solidarity. Today, Russia is building on this historical capital to position itself as a reliable partner that respects the sovereignty of African nations, unlike France, the United States, and the European Union, which are widely rejected by the populations and pan-African movements.

I believe that Lavrov’s tour can be seen as a recognition and mutual respect between Russia and its African partners. Lavrov goes beyond superficial diplomatic discussions; he demonstrates a genuine willingness to deepen bilateral relations and understand the specific needs and aspirations of each nation. This mutual respect is crucial in a context where many African countries seek to diversify their partnerships to avoid excessive dependence on former colonial powers like France and Britain, and on Western institutions, which are criticized in Africa for their neocolonialist and imperialist policies, as well as the intimidation and pressure they exert on some leaders in their relations with Russia.

The main objectives of Sergey Lavrov’s visit 

One of the main objectives of this tour is to strengthen economic and military cooperation. Economically, Russia sees Africa as a continent of the future with expanding markets. Russian investments in the mining, energy, and infrastructure sectors can stimulate local economies essential for the development of countries while providing Russia with resources and economic opportunities.

If we speak of Guinea, for example, after six decades of diplomatic relations with this country, Russia has developed economic cooperation that is currently experiencing notable growth, boosted by the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg in July 2023. Despite the efforts of both countries, economic cooperation was affected between February and March 2022 by the illegal, criminal, and unjust sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe on Russia due to the military operation in Ukraine. However, Russia continues to strengthen its investments in Guinea, with projects in key sectors: energy, mining, health, and infrastructure. In 2024, Moscow remains a notable contributor to Guinea’s socio-economic development. For example, the Russian company RUSAL, the world leader in the aluminum industry (with nearly 5.5% of global aluminum and 3.8% alumina production) is very present in Guinea (nearly 4,000 employees) and contributes to the creation of jobs for local populations, strengthening Russia’s presence by showing its willingness to play a significant economic role with its African partners.

Read more Unstoppable march of the Global South: How Russia and Africa made 2023 a pivotal year for bilateral relations

Military cooperation

Militarily, cooperation with African countries is strategically important for Russia. As a major supplier of arms, Russia can offer not only quality military equipment but also training tailored to the needs of African countries and highly valued expertise. This military assistance helps African nations like Burkina Faso, which is plagued by insecurity, to strengthen their internal security and combat threats such as terrorism. For Russia, these military agreements also reinforce its presence and influence in Africa, contributing to a global network of alliances.

The fight against neocolonialism is another central theme of this visit. Russia positions itself as a defender of national sovereignty and an opponent of neocolonial practices. This stance strongly resonates with many African nations seeking to free themselves from imperialist influences like France and the United States and to fully control their economic and political destinies. By supporting this struggle, Russia presents itself not only as a strategic ally but also as an ideological partner.

Russia’s multipolar approach and vision

This approach fits into a broader Russian vision for a multipolar world. In this vision, each nation should have the freedom to choose its own partners and define its policies without external pressures. For African countries, this means more autonomy and the ability to negotiate agreements that truly reflect their interests and aspirations. 

To conclude, I would say that Lavrov’s tour of Africa symbolizes a major step in Moscow’s strategy to strengthen its ties with the continent. It reflects a desire to diversify international partnerships, to respect and support the sovereign aspirations of African nations, which are victims of neocolonialism, and especially to promote a multipolar world order. For Russia, this initiative is an opportunity to consolidate its position on the international stage. For African countries, it is a chance to benefit from new opportunities for cooperation and development within a framework of mutual respect and support for national sovereignty without interference in the internal politics of African nations.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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