Last week, a high-level summit was held in Sochi and went unnoticed by Europe. The Kremlin, led by Vladimir Putin, came to the summit backed by a galaxy of private mercenary organizations, mining oligarchs and state-owned enterprises engaged in the arms trade and atomic energy. Russia’s goal is to enter the African continent through the front door.
Leaders from 43countries, in addition to 10,000 regional businessmen, participated in the first Russia-Africa summit, responsible for Moscow’s future ambitions on the continent. Military and political cooperation is already bearing fruit, and it is doing so precisely in strategic geographical points close to the busy shipping routes to Europe. A year ago, Eritrea and Russia began building a logistics base in an Eritrean port; In May, Moscow signed an agreement with Sudan’s dictator, Omar al-Bashir, that will allow Russian warships to return to local ports.
In addition to the official summit, juicy contracts have been signed between Russian private and public companies. Rosatom, the state-run atomic energy giant Rosatom, plans to build a nuclear power plant in Ethiopia, Nigeria will buy 12 Mi-35M attack helicopters and finally Sverbank, the savings bank, has signed a $5 billion agreement to facilitate Russian exports by African countries. To all this, the cancellation of a large part of Africa’s Soviet-era debt is added: $20 billion.
At the summit, Putin presented himself as the “big brother” who aspires to a new relationship with Africa based on cooperation and distant collaboration between the former “European” colonial powers assuring African leaders that their intentions were not to strip Africa of their resources, nor to give lessons in democracy. We see a group of Western countries using pressure, intimidation and blackmail from sovereign African nations,” he and Vladimir Putin said.
For economic cooperation to take off, Russia and Africa should go beyond major business projects between small and medium-sized enterprises and between cities and individuals. China and India are more than consolidated on the continent. Europe and the United States, through historical ties and geographical proximity, play with an advantage.