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Russia’s Newfound Appeal To African Countries Is Actually Quite Easy To Explain

Andrew Korybko

Africa will always support the side that’s fighting to liberate its countries from the chains of neo-colonialism and structural racism, which means that the West never had a chance from the get-go when it came to competing with Russia for hearts and minds.

Observers across the world are bewildered by Russia’s newfound appeal to African countries, especially over the past year since the start of its special operation in Ukraine. The US-led West’s Golden Billion invested heavily in propagating the weaponized information warfare narrative alleging that Russia was behaving as a so-called “colonizer” in that neighboring former Soviet Republic, not to mention supposedly holding over a billion Africans hostage by allegedly preventing Ukrainian grain shipments.

What happened over the past twelve months caught that de facto New Cold War bloc completely off guard since almost half the continent declined to condemn Russia at the UN General Assembly while not a single African country complied with the Golden Billion’s sanctions against it. Foreign Minister Lavrov has since visited a slew of African states on his three visits to the continent since last summer, including two in recent weeks that practically occurred back-to-back.

Furthermore, the private military company Wagner has allegedly scaled up its “Democratic Security” operations, which refers to the wide range of counter-Hybrid Warfare tactics and strategies for defending a targeted state’s national model of democracy from external threats. France’s sway across its self-proclaimed “sphere of influence” in so-called “Françafrique” has drastically receded in the face of countries like Mali and reportedly soon also Burkina Faso striking military partnerships with that group.

These observations, all of which are objectively existing and easily verifiable, indisputably prove that Western expectations of African states’ reactions to Russia’s special operation were totally wrong. Far from considering Russia to be a “colonizer” that’s also holding the continent hostage by preventing its grain imports, they regard it as the world’s most powerful anti-colonial force nowadays that’s passionate about ensuring the reliable export of food and fuel to Africa that the West is denying them.

The popularity of the aforementioned perceptions was foreseeable in hindsight since Russia’s defense of its national security red lines in Ukraine after NATO clandestinely crossed them there tapped into the African people’s long-suppressed anti-imperialist sentiments and inspired hope for a better future. To explain, they’ve been suffering under the yoke of Western neo-imperialism for decades and hitherto lost hope that any truly independent Great Power would ever rise to help free them from these chains.

For as impressive as China’s socio-economic investments in Africa have been in lifting millions of people out of poverty there, nobody ever seriously expected it to unilaterally risk the full-fledged “decoupling” of its mutually beneficial ties with the West by decisively defying that bloc in any geopolitical way. Rather, the approach embraced by the People’s Republic was friendly, gentle, and non-hostile in terms of its intent to gradually erode Western influence over Africa instead of doing so in dramatic spurts.

With all due respect to China’s UN-enshrined right to formulate its grand strategy in accordance with however its leadership regards as being in its national interests, this stance risked being offset through Western Hybrid Warfare schemes, especially since Beijing can’t defend its investments there. This means that while everyone is thankful for the ways in which China improved their lives, they didn’t expect it to fulfill the geopolitical role required for facilitating Africa’s freedom from neo-colonialism.

By contrast, Russia crossed the Rubicon by unprecedentedly resorting to kinetic means for defending its national security red lines and thus being forced by the circumstances into which the Golden Billion placed it to lead what can now be described as the Global Revolutionary Movement (GRM) against unipolarity. President Putin articulated the guiding precepts of this multipolar vision on several occasions that can be read about more in detail here:

* 22 July: “Putin’s Global Revolutionary Manifesto Is Worth Reading To Understand Russian Grand Strategy”

* 1 October: “Vladimir Putin’s Revolutionary Manifesto Will Forever Change Global Politics”

* 3 October: “Putin’s Revolutionary Manifesto Focuses On The Struggle For Democracy Against The Deep State”

In brief, the Russian leader framed his country’s decision to militarily intervene in Ukraine as part of Moscow’s traditional role in leading the evolution of International Relations towards a more democratic, equal, just, and predictable direction. This perception resonated with Africans, especially because it presented the New Cold War as a worldwide struggle between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the jointly BRICS- & SCO-led Global South of which they are Russia are a part as explained at length here:

* 24 June: “BRICS’ Role In The Global Systemic Transition To Multipolarity”

* 5 August: “The Russian Foreign Ministry Comprehensively Explained The Global Systemic Transition”

* 27 August: “Russia Correctly Described The US-Led West’s Golden Billion As Racist To The Core”

* 14 September: “The Significance Of The SCO’s Samarkand Summit”

* 29 October: “The Importance Of Properly Framing The New Cold War”

* 10 January: “Russia’s National Security Council Chief Just Completely Excoriated The West”

The Golden Billion is described by Moscow as aggressively clinging to unipolarity in the face of the Global South’s efforts to accelerate the emerging Multipolar World Order. The first’s American and French hegemons collude to indefinitely perpetuate their joint subjugation of African states to the West while the second’s rising Russian leader is helping them liberate themselves. Bigoted statements from the French President and the EU’s top diplomat reinforced this perception in Africans’ minds:

* 30 June: “Macron’s Smears Show How Desperate France Has Become To Regain Its Lost Influence In Africa”

* 29 August: “Macron Insulted Africans’ Intelligence By Claiming That Multipolar Powers Manipulate Them”

* 14 October: “Josep Borrell Blew A Racist Dog Whistle By Implying That Africa Is Invading Europe”

* 9 December: “Josep Borrell Ridiculously Thinks That Africans Never Heard Of Putin Or Even Russia”

As for the means through which Russia is helping African states liberate themselves, these are principally via the earlier mentioned “Democratic Security” campaigns that are led by Wagner in the Central African Republic and Mali but aren’t exclusively under its ambit. The combination of counter-terrorist support via that group coupled with political backing at the UN and strategic investments help protect those countries’ statehood from externally exacerbated threats. Here’s how this plays out in practice:

* 23 July: “Russia Pledged To Help African Countries Finally Complete The Process Of Decolonization”

* 24 July: “Al Qaeda’s Malian Branch Just Declared War On Russia”

* 4 August: “Russia’s Security Assistance To The Central African Republic Is Crucial To Its Stability”

* 10 August: “The Interim Malian President’s Call With Putin Is Actually A Pretty Big Deal”

* 11 August: “Africa’s Role In The New Cold War”

* 6 October: “Why’s The West So Spooked By Possible Burkinabe-Russian Military Cooperation?”

* 20 October: “Axios Exposed France’s Infowar Against Russia In Africa”

* 7 November: “Analyzing President Putin’s Vision Of Russian-African Relations”

* 22 November: “Mali’s Banning Of All French-Funded NGOs Will Defend Its Democracy From Paris’ Meddling”

* 31 December: “The Top Five Geostrategic Developments In Africa Last Year”

* 12 January: “Russia Defended Its ‘Democratic Security’ Efforts In West Africa & The Sahel At The UNSC”

No other member of the Global South is capable of providing these services to African countries, which thus imbues Russia with a unique role vis-à-vis its growing number of partners across the continent. Upon proving this concept in the Central African Republic and Mali, Russia has attracted other African states’ attention, which is why they’re racing to explore similar such military-strategic cooperation pacts with it in order to secure their sovereignty in the face of the Golden Billion’s Hybrid War threats.

This gives Russia an edge over everyone else, especially its Western rivals whose only response to these bespoke “Democratic Security” strategies that Moscow has crafted for its African partners is to spew information warfare narratives about their ties and threaten to impose sanctions against them. Without first securing their sovereignty, these African states can’t sustainably benefit from China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) investments, hence their prioritization of ties with Moscow over Beijing nowadays.

That observation isn’t to imply that Russia is eroding China’s partnerships in Africa, but rather to raise awareness about how these two complement one another since the first ensures that those states’ sovereignty is secure while the second then helps them meaningfully benefit afterwards. India also has a role to play in this framework too since it’s poised to provide political leadership of the new Non-Aligned Movement (“Neo-NAM”) that it’s assembling as part of its plan to form a third pole of influence.

The details of Delhi’s grand strategic goal in this respect are beyond the scope of the present analysis but can be learned more about by reviewing the preceding hyperlinks. The simple point being conveyed is that the leading Great Powers of the emerging Multipolar World Order each play their own role in advancing the shared end of eroding unipolarity, though Russia’s role is much more direct than the complementary ones played by China or India due to its focus on “Democratic Security” and the GRM.

Acceptance of these military-strategic factors easily explains Russia’s newfound appeal to African countries nowadays, which the Golden Billion is literally powerless to counteract since their respective roles in the New Cold War aren’t going to change. Africa will always support the side that’s fighting to liberate its countries from the chains of neo-colonialism and structural racism, which means that the West never had a chance from the get-go when it came to competing with Russia for hearts and minds.