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Europe Panics About Russia’s Return to Africa

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French President Emmanuel Macron visiting Cameroon, Benin and Guinea Bissau this week

In October-November 2022, Russia will send its top diplomats, engineers, Defence & military experts, trade gurus, technology experts and government officials to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to moderate the second edition of the Russia–Africa Summit.

Russia which has been silently consolidating itself to make a comeback since the collapse of the (USSR) Soviet Union (1988–1991) has recently become a point of focus as it attempts to flex its muscles for global influence in friction against western dominance.

Before its collapse, the Soviet Union enjoyed massive cooperation with Africa.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said on Tuesday that Africa has been close to Russia for the last 100 years, “Russians have never harmed us.”

“How can we automatically be against Russians who have been with us for the last 100 years? We have forgiven those who did bad things to us and we are working with them, how about those who have never harmed us?” Museveni said during his meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov.

The Kremlin has sent its Foreign Affairs Minister Lavrov to comb through the African continent ahead of the Addis Ababa Russia–Africa Summit.

Europe Uneasy With Russia return to Africa

French President Emmanuel Macron said he is ready to step up support to African countries facing food and security concerns in a bid to stem Russia’s growing sway in the region.

Macron is visiting Cameroon, Benin and Guinea Bissau this week while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tours other countries in the continent as Russia seeks to strengthen its relations in Africa following its invasion of Ukraine.

Macron said in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde on Tuesday that Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports and attacks on grain warehouses have disrupted the global food supply and triggered shortages in Africa.

He promoted his so-called FARM initiative with which France and allies pledge to help developing countries boost their own agricultural capacity.

“We will not relinquish the security of the African continent,” Macron said.

His remarks were a response to Russia’s narrative, which Lavrov reiterated a few days earlier on a stop in Egypt.

Lavrov said food shortages and inflation are a consequence of “illegal Western sanctions.” African countries have largely refrained from criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Macron also pledged to revamp France’s military commitment to African security even as French soldiers leave Mali, pushed out by the junta in power there in favor of forces from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group.

French troops entered Mali in 2013 to stop al Qaeda-linked militants from advancing toward the capital, Bamako. They ended up staying as violence spilled across borders in the Sahel region.

Macron, who will be in Benin on Wednesday, said France’s renewed engagement will extend beyond the Sahel, to the Gulf of Guinea and “countries which now have to face terrorist groups which are expanding and shaking up the whole region.”

Still, France’s military presence in Mali and other African countries has faced local protests and accusations, partly fueled by Russian allegations that it is perpetuating another form of colonial rule.

While Russia’s government denies having ties with the Wagner group, it stresses that security failures by Western countries in Africa prompt governments to seek alternative partners.

Moscow’s penetration in the region was on show during Lavrov’s visit. President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi gave him a warm welcome in Cairo, singling out Russian-owned Rosatom’s construction of Egypt’s first nuclear plant as a prime example of bilateral cooperation.

Lavrov also met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who praised Russia as a partner in the struggle against colonialism going back a century. Museveni publicly requested Russian assistance to develop East Africa’s first nuclear power plant.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov In Uganda