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University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation

Russia’s Growing Influence in Africa

July 14, 2022
Allard Duursma, Julia Friedrich, et al.

Blog

In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Allard Duursma, senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich, Julia Friedrich, research fellow at the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute, and Niklas Masuhr,senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich, put Russia’s growing influence in Africa in context.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, responses in the United States and Europe have been fairly uniform in their shock, horror, and anger at Russian aggression. While Russia’s propaganda about its “special military operation” has so far gained little traction in Europe, the picture is very different in Africa.

Over the last decade, Russia has engaged in a concerted campaign to gain influence on the African continent. Most recently, Russian mercenaries drove out the French military presence in Mali, resulting in a spike in civilian casualties in that West African country.

Western analysts are often preoccupied with concerns about Chinese inroads into the African continent, which have a much larger footprint and consist of visible infrastructure projects and increasingly less concealed attempts to influence politics. Russia by contrast manages to accrue influence more haphazardly by playing to its strength and exploiting Western weaknesses. And while the sustainability of Moscow’s influence can be doubted, at present its efforts are proving effective and can be conducted on the cheap.

How is Russia able to exert a growing influence on the African continent?

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.