Russia’s relations with its Eastern European and Central Asia neighbors are currently low. Renewed imperialist ambitions in Ukraine and heightened militaristic rhetoric against nations they formerly ruled over have arisen in the Kremlin and the public, forcing their former spheres of influence to look elsewhere for geopolitical relations.

Likewise, in Africa, the scars of colonialism remain for most African nations, which is where Russia came in.

Using the “multipolar world” rhetoric to gain support for its imperial ambitions and illicit activities, Russia has gradually gotten a foothold in Africa. By hiding their true intentions in Africa while claiming they’re helping to “liberate” the continent, the Kremlin has successfully whitewashed their crimes by playing into the emotions of various African countries.

Russia’s Increased Presence in Africa

Moscow has increased their interest in Africa since the early 2010s. Using a proxy to exert their influence, Putin would hire the mercenary organization, the Wagner Group, to conduct illicit activities in Africa.

The Wagner Group has not only been effective in propping up military juntas across the continent, but they’ve also extracted essential resources to enrich themselves and the Russian government.

Engaging in slave labor, Wagner has used juntas in Sudan and the Central African Republic to remove valuable mines to continue operations and fund military operations, as seen with Ukraine and Syria in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Along with PMC running operations in the continent, Russia also has a targeted disinformation media campaign in Africa to fuel sympathies and convince Africans that Eastern and Central European non-colonial countries are just as bad as Western Europe and North America.