Russia - Africa: Military Partnership

On April 19, 2018, US President Donald Trump signed two new documents on the export of conventional weapons and UAVs to foreign countries. These documents mean considerable simplification of the arms trade. UAVs that do not possess powerful strike power, but equipped with laser rangefinders and target designators will be exported without additional permits: until now their export has been strictly controlled and limited.

These acts mean the decision of the American leadership to increase arms exports and to wage a resolute struggle against competitors in the arms and military equipment markets. Russia here is the main competitor. According to SIPRI, Russia accounts for 23% of world arms exports, and the United States - 33% (in 2012-2016).

According to Rosoboronexport, in 2017 25% of the world's arms turnover (for more than $ 14 billion) was the share of Rosoboronexport, which is in the American sanctions list.

Over the past 1-2 years, Rosoboronexport's partnership with the countries of Africa and Asia has increased. This is evidenced, inter alia, by the participation of numerous delegations from African countries in the 7th Moscow Conference on International Security (April 4-5, 2018). About a dozen African delegations were headed by defense ministers or vice-ministers of different countries (Republic of Congo, Guinea, Cameroon, South Africa, Uganda, etc.).

Speaking at the conference, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu pointed to "the complexity of the situation in Africa. The actual disintegration of Libya led to an increase of the terrorist threat in the northern and central parts of the continent”. He confirmed Russia's readiness to develop military ties with foreign countries, which face terrorist and other threats.

On the sidelines of the conference Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Defense Minister of Mozambique Atanásio M'tumuke signed an intergovernmental agreement on simplification of the Russian warships’ visits of to the ports of Mozambique and a memorandum on cooperation in the naval area between defense ministries.

The explosion of the Western media attacks against Russia was caused by the development of military-technical cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Central African Republic. Russia is accused of the intention to create a special center of influence in the Central African region, capturing the CAR’s uranium and diamond deposits, ousting French, Canadian and Chinese companies. All of these accusations are false.

Indeed, in October 2017, an agreement was signed on Russian-CAR military-technical cooperation. In December 2017, with the permission of the United Nations, which made an exception for the arms supplies to CAR, an IL-76 cargo jet delivered to Bangui a batch of small arms (submachine guns, machine guns, grenade launchers, pistols) and sent a group of Russian specialists to train soldiers of two battalions (1200 people) to fire from these weapons. The first contingent of 200 people has already passed the necessary training course. As to uranium, one can understand the fears of the French for the fate of uranium deposits of global importance, but most likely the raised propaganda campaign is connected with the Wikileaks publications on corruption deals regarding the concessions acquisition of uranium deposits by the French Areva Ressources company.

The African interest in military cooperation is fueled by the effectiveness of Russian arms, demonstrated in Syria and the Russian concept of anti-terrorist operations. More importantly, there is growing confidence in Russia in Africa. The Africans recognize that there is no more powerful and decisive force in the world that advocates the principles of sovereignty, equality and non-interference in international affairs, than Russia and China. All these factors reinforce the positive trends in the development of Russian-African military ties, which could have of a long-term nature.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.