Amid a slew of headlines highlighting Vladimir Putin’s efforts to expand Russia’s footprint in Africa since the beginning of the Ukraine war, a certain narrative is emerging regarding Moscow’s aims, tactics, and results in this crucial but often neglected region.
Is Russia’s presence in Africa a threatening menace or merely an empty gesture? As it turns out, it is neither, argues Samuel Ramani, author of the excellent “Russia in Africa: Resurgent Great Power or Bellicose Pretender?”
Emphasizing the long established playbook and historical memory of the Soviet Union’s support of decolonization and anti-apartheid stance, Ramani speaks with Robert Amsterdam about the underpinnings of current Russian policy in Africa, based on cyclical themes abandonment and return.
Beyond the recent high profile engagements of Wagner Group in countries such as the Central African Republic, Amsterdam and Ramani discuss the strategic shortcomings of Western sanctions policies, competition and cooperation with China, and intra-elite maneuvering following Yevgeny Prigozhin’s criticism of Russian military leadership.