Russia has been gradually increasing its activity in Africa in what is being viewed as a renewed effort to win support from the continent evidenced by recent involvement and bilateral agreements with several countries.
Central African Republic (CAR) appealed for help against militia groups last year, Russia’s donation of weapons was chosen over former colonizer, France with whom they have hard longer relations. By early February 2018, Russia had sent nine planes with weapons along with dozens of contractors to train local soldiers and secure mining projects, marking the start of its highest-profile military foray in sub-Saharan Africa for decades.
Russia is seemingly trying to revive some of the relationships that lapsed after the Soviet Union’s collapse and is expected to establish a five-person team at CAR’s defense ministry. Since Western nations sanctioned Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014, Moscow has signed 19 military cooperation deals in sub-Saharan Africa, including with Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, according to its foreign and defense ministries and state media.
Additionally, Russia has forged lasting relations with Egypt which is an important link between Africa and the Arab League and as such the move is viewed as an interesting development in the country’s geopolitics. Russia’s military assistance to African nations is welcomed as it has among the strongest militaries and technological advancement that could benefit African nations in fighting both domestic and regional threats.