Making Sense of Russia’s Changing Role in Africa

For more than a decade, Russia has made a concerted effort to strengthen its influence on the African continent. It has had some success. In countries like the Central African Republic and Mali, Russia has become the preferred partner for the provision of security services through private military companies like Wagner. Meanwhile, France and other Western countries have struggled to maintain their foothold in Mali and elsewhere amid strong anti-colonial sentiment and growing authoritarianism in the region. While the extent of Russia’s influence in Africa remains hard to gauge, the prospect of emerging power struggles between Moscow and Western capitals in Africa may bode poorly for peacemaking efforts on the continent.

In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Pauline Bax, Crisis Group’s Africa program deputy director, to talk about what to make of Russia’s involvement in Africa. They talk about how Russian influence in Africa has evolved in places like Mali and the Central African Republic. They also discuss what role traditional and social media have played in shaping popular perceptions about Russia and the West on the continent. Finally, they talk about whether growing competition between Russia and the West could hamper efforts to foster peace and stability in conflict-afflicted regions in Africa.

For more in-depth analysis on Russia’s involvement in Africa, check out our Africa program page.

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