Ukraine War Day #157: Africa Supports Russia

Dear Readers:

Although Ukrainian President Zelenskys like to claim that “The world is with us!” we see that such claims are not entirely true. Most of the world, what used to be called “The Third World” is not with Zelensky at all. (Even much of the First World is getting sick and tired of his antics, but that’s another story, for another day.)

Take Africa, for example. A couple of days ago I saw this story, about Lavrov’s big African Safari tour. Hunting for friends, and finding them in droves. And the right kind of friends, not false friends, like the Europeans turned out to be. The reporters are Artur Priymak and Alyona Zadorozhnaya, the headline reads:

Russia Is Defeating The West In the Competition For Africa

Moving like poorly trained synchronized figure skaters, both Lavrov and French President Macron are conducting tours of Africa simultaneously, but never actually crossing paths. (Lavrov started first, and then Macron, almost in a panic, tried to catch up.) Lavrov has the advantage of course. Even though he is older, and doesn’t speak French (literally the lingua franca of many nations on the African continent), Lavrov is a nicer person than Macron. More importantly: Unlike Macron he is neither a colonialist nor the heir of colonialists. African politicians are not dumb, they know very well who is a colonialist and who is a real friend, or possible friend. There are a lot of lucrative and mutually beneficial deals at stake.

Congo’s Foreign Minister Jean-Claude Gakosso is a Russophile.

Jealous at Lavrov’s diplomatic success, Macron, in his public speeches, resorted to the usual anti-Russia slurs, accusing Lavrov of conducting “hybrid warfare” upon the African continent. Hybrid war, in this case, referring to possible trade deals, and also “spreading disinformation”. Macron and other European leaders are very worried that Russian diplomacy will deter African nations from joining in on Western economic sanctions against Russia.

Lavrov’s assistant, Maria Zakharova retorted tartly to Macron and the other Frenchies: “First of all, the things that France did to the African continent, nobody else can compete with that. To this day these countries remember [what they did]. That’s not to say that everything they did was bad. But the amount of resources they pillaged, and the completely lawless acts they committed, let’s not even speak about that.”

In his turn, Macron has played a stupid game. At a public speech in Cameroon, for example, he tried to bully the African leaders, accusing them of “hypocrisy” by refusing to join in the sanctions game.

The reporters quote the words of an expert named Alexander Zdanevich, who teaches at the Africanist Faculty of the University of Saint Petersburg. Zdanevich: France is used to operating in Africa as if they were still the suzerain. Paris employes the principle of maintaining full political and economic control over their former colonies. “It’s only natural that their African partners are not pleased with this approach. They currently have more options in the choice of partners, as more players enter the internal markets; including very serious players like Russia and China.”

French TV shows Russian “Wagner” group in Mali.

Various African media outlets, such as the Cameroon News Agency, point to Macron’s visit as an attempt to re-exert colonial dominance over the Africans. The flip side of that is, everybody can see that French influence is waning; simultaneously with the rising influence of China and also, to a smaller degree, Russia. One sign of the new situation: Earlier this year, Mali demanded that French troops leave their country; and instead invited Russian troops to come in and help them fight against terrorists. These troops (from the Russian private military agency Wagner) went in and apparently did a good job, impressing not just the leaders in Mali, but also in the French-speaking Central African Republic. One should note that Wagner troops are currently also serving in the Ukrainian conflict, and also apparently doing a nice job; although the Ukrainians like to call them “Nazis”, pointing out that their company insignia depicts a skull. (“Are we the baddies?”)

Meanwhile, in the Congo (another French-speaking country), Lavrov discussed possible deals to buy Russian weapons and help beef up the Congo army. And same thing also in Ethiopia and in Nigeria.

Lavrov’s trip follows upon an important visit in June, of Russian President Putin with various African leaders. Where they discussed, among other things, the world grain crisis and how to fix it. This led to the “Grain Summit” in Istanbul last week; and then followed by Lavrov’s tour of Africa. Russia hopes to conclude many deals to sell their grain and other produce to hungry African nations, at a very good price. Which should tick the Ukrainians off real good, since they have a lot of Westies believing (and probably even convinced themselves) that they are the ones who feed the world.

The Emotional Factor And The Power Of Love

Seems like Africa is the center of the world now: Everybody is courting her and vying for influence: Europe, China, Russia, Turkey, Arab countries, you name it. Must be nice to be love-sick Africa, with so many gentlemen-callers. I can visualize this as a beautiful Tchaikovsky ballet: Africa sits and watches as each pair of dancers, wearing national garb, takes center stage and struts their stuff.

“Okay, now let’s watch the Chinese dance.”

Although no one can deny the continuing prestige of Europe, especially France, on the African continent, the Russian suitor has an important card in his deck: The Soviet legacy of altruistic friendship. For example, Congo’s Foreign Minister Jean-Claude Gakosso loves Russia and has nice memories from his youth. He graduated from Leningrad State University in 1983, with a degree in Journalism. The video clip embedded in the piece I linked above, shows him speaking with Lavrov in fluent Russian: “We will never forget how you accepted us as students into your country, and gave us a very good education. I studied at the Zhdanov branch of Leningrad State University. I used to go to the theater in Petersburg. The Hermitage became my second home. The Bronze Horseman [statue], you know how the verse goes, Люблю тебя, Петра творение. We are with you! We are with you!”

The peoples’ friendship university in moscow, founded in 1960 and renamed the patrice lumumba university in 1961, mukhammed khamed salekh almek, a sudanese student, finds that conjugating russian verbs is not easy, 1960s. (Photo by: Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Zdanevich: That Soviet cultural influence, that support which Moscow gave in the 1950’s and 60’s to the young African nations after their decolonization; to this day forms a basis for the use of “soft power”. There is a generational memory connected to the Soviet Union’s assistance to these countries when they were fighting for their independence. It was the Soviets who helped them establish their states and gave them economic assistance, without intefering in their internal affairs.

Next: Along these same lines, we will review this piece by reporter Gevorg Mirzayan, and also discuss the recent pivot in Soviet foreign policy, with Putin now issuing fiery anti-colonialist speeches that sound straight out of the Soviet playbook. It’s kind of funny, in a way, because I recall Mirzayan a couple of years ago writing openly racist op-eds about American “Negroes”; and Putin never had much good things to say about the Soviet Union before. But times change, and people start to realize who is who, and what is what, in this crazy world.

[to be continued]

This entry was posted in Economics, Friendship of Peoples, Military and War and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Ukraine War Day #157: Africa Supports Russia

  1. Liborio Guaso says:

    It is a pride for Africa to have been the place of origin of humanity and they are tired of supporting the nonsense of white descendants.


    • yalensis says:

      That’s assuming that being human is something to be proud of. Which I wonder sometimes, when in misanthropic mood…


      • the pair says:

        well said. every time someone says “every human born is a miracle” i think “do miracles usually happen 8 billion times”?

        which reminds me of my favorite one liner: “they say being a mother is the hardest job in the world. it’s also the easiest job to get.”


  2. the pair says:

    good write-up. i’m a little skeptical of wagner and some of their tactics in africa but then i’m pretty much 100% against private merc armies. even if these guys don’t match the pure malevolence of erik prince and blackwater/xe (few can) they should still be replaced by accountable russian troops or be relegated to training actual africans.

    but yeah, russia has much cleaner hands in africa historically than anyone in the west (and volumes have been written on the arabian slave trade that made the western version look bearable by comparison). i do LOVE that they named a school after lumumba, though. fitting since he was a perfect symbol of the CIA’s repulsive behavior throughout the decades.


    • yalensis says:

      I don’t like private merc armies either, I like the Soviet military system. But people say the private soldiers are better, and I don’t doubt that (Wagner has a reputation of being very good professional fighters), but why can’t regular official soldiers be just as good? If it’s because of the $$$, they maybe the state should pay them more and aim for a higher quality (?)
      Also, Wagners use skull insignia, so maybe that does make them the baddies! I mean, if that’s the criterion…


      • Sacha says:

        It’s also about the accountability denial. If vagner is involved in Mali its a sovereign state hiring a private doesn’t engage you as much as a formal defense mutual treaty.

        That’s also why in Ukraine, operators of advanced weapons are almost all contractors so that western armies like the Brits lower their local signature.

        Sometimes a mission may be at the limit of international law. It’s easier to use private contractors so that a country avoids to be legally responsible for what happens.


  3. Sacha says:

    We could draw a parallel between the use of soft power by Israel and the soviet union during the decolonization Era and of course this help was not purely ideological (“we help people to become free because we were in your footstep”) it had an unexpected historical role because Israeli engineers worked on the construction of the Ugandan Airport where later Israelis were taken hostage in Entebbe.

    That being said, it is still going on with many African students in Russia or with assistance programs by Israel (like mashav) even with no diplomatic gains for Israel. That’s how you see the boss in the room (lavrov, putin) and the kids who need to learn (israelis) on the ability to play this soft power.

    As a French I can only applaud to russias achievements and also consider how our stupid elite missed opportunities during the last 20 years unable to see that Africans wanted to change from being client states to being partner states.

    On the other side, one can’t blame any country to be opportunist and African countries aren’t an exception. They need affordable food or fertilizing so they know which door to knock on. Former African socialist countries are keener on being closer to Russia like Congo so where the achievement is probably the most impressive, appears to be Nigeria which is a giant in Africa and welcomes the American centcom. France doesn’t have any means for its imperial policy but playing on the courtyard of America is rather mind blowing diplomatically


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