"In Africa, Russia sows small pebbles and waits to see what it gives"


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Arnaud Kalika is Director of Security of Meridiam, a company specialized in financing and managing public infrastructures. A former analyst at the military intelligence department, he works with various international experts on Russia and geostrategy and directs the seminar in criminology in the post-Soviet world at the CNAM. He is the author of The crazed empire. The Russian power system (CNRS Editions, 2008) and "The Manichean Fog of the Franco-Russian Relationship" (The revision of the two worlds, September 2015).

Arnaud Kalika
Arnaud Kalika CEMI

Can we talk about a return of Russia to Africa?

Russia is back, but it has been around for a long time. At the fall of the USSR [en 1990]Africa has disappeared from its strategic priorities. Russian interests have packed up; the military-industrial complex continued to function, but a dozen closed embassies and cultural centers, as well as commercial delegations and branches of the KGB.

The main texts that define Russia's foreign policy refer to Africa as a minimum and, in the first place, in the context of cooperation with regional entities such as the African Union or the Economic Community of African States of the Republic of Africa. Africa. West (Cédéao). Nothing is said about bilateral relations. In terms of priorities, Africa is still relegated away from other geographical areas, such as the Middle East, Europe or Asia. Moreover, it has always been perceived in Russia according to a Hegelian and racial vision, with a "useful Africa" ​​that includes the Maghreb-Mashrek – Algeria in the first place – and the sub-Saharan Africa, still called "Black Africa". From 2013-2014, the Ukrainian crisis had an accelerating effect, Moscow sought alternative ways of existing in areas it had overlooked.

With what intentions?

The primary objective is economic. The Russians no longer have anything in Africa: trade with all of Sub-Saharan Africa makes 5 billion dollars [4,4 milliards d’euros]18 billion if we add Algeria. It is very weak China, Turkey, Europe, the United States, Brazil are far ahead. The priority sectors are mining, oil and nuclear. Rosatom [l’entreprise publique du nucléaire] has a real planting policy, with the development of minicentrales. Russia is mainly trying to sell framework contracts to partner countries, with benefits such as staff training in Moscow or the creation of schools, in exchange for privileged positions in the markets.


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