The Stream

Why is Russia so interested in Africa?

Moscow tries to reestablish ties after years of disengagement prompting many to ask who benefits.

In the days of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin maintained strong ties with several African nations. But the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s caused Russia to retreat inward. Now, though, it appears ready to once again establish close relationships on the continent.

In recent months, Moscow has forged military partnerships with Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. It has also shipped arms to Cameroon and has plans to build a nuclear power plant in Sudan.

Following a July appearance at the 10th BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Russian President Vladimir Putin even hinted that he was interested in organising the first ever Russia-Africa Summit.

For many countries on the continent the attention is tempting because it allows them to pit the Kremlin against China, India, Turkey and the West. And according to Russia’s economy minister, Mazim Oreshkin, partnership with Russia can help African countries achieve sustainable growth in the wake of global trade wars and protectionism.

So how will this situation develop? What does Russia really want? And who stands to gain? We ask a panel of experts.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Dr. Olga Kulkova 
Senior Research Fellow, Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Ronak Gopaldas @RonakGopaldas 
Director of Signal Risk 

Paul Stronski @pstronski 
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Russia and Eurasia Program

Abdi Latif Dahir @Lattif
Reporter, Quartz 

Read more: 

Are we witnessing a ‘new scramble for Africa’? – Al Jazeera 
After decades-long hiatus, Russia seeks renewed Africa ties – VOA 

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.