Russian-African relations and the US factor in 2015–2018


Andrey Urnov


This article is an attempt to trace the impact of the US factor on the Russian African relations during the last years of B. Obama’s administration rule and at the initial stage of D. Trump presidency (2015–2018). The comparative assessment of Moscow and Washington African policy is made. The author demonstrates distinctions and continuity in the activities of the two US administrations in Africa.

D. Trump has not included Africa in the list of his foreign policy priorities. Washington however has no intention to withdraw from the Black continent. There, as everywhere, “the American leadership” remains the invariable aim.

In the 21th century, the Russia Federation policy in Africa has become much more active. Guided by the concept of multipolar world and in view of its current potential, economic in particular, Moscow has no intention to compete with the USA and other foreign actors for the overwhelming influence in Africa. Its tasks are pragmatic and realistic.

In Africa, as globally, the US policy towards Russia is hostile. However the author is of the opinion that Washington does not consider Russia as a serious threaten for its positions and plans in Africa. The new National security strategy of the United States of America approved in December 2018 is full of antirussian outbursts, but in a section, dealing with the US priorities in Africa, Russia is not mentioned. The main American enemies there are international terrorists and China. Hence, no tough confrontation between the two parties – so far. Therefore rivalry there is confined to competition.

The article is focused on visits in March 2018 of the Russian foreign minister S. Lavrov to Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia and of then US Secretary of State R.Tillerson to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria. The situation around some most sensitive US-Russia points of intersection in Africa – such as Egypt, Libya and South Africa Republic – is analyzed.

The development of Cairo’s bilateral relations with Washington and Moscow is reviewed. It is noted that cooperation between Russia and Egypt is of mutual benefit and that the two countries need each other. But of this cooperation has its limits as the USA remains the main foreign partner of Egypt.

The conclusion is that Russia has taken a course for a gradual restoration of its positions in Libya after the overthrow of M. Kaddafi. Moscow’s contribution to the settlement of the political crisis in the country is explored. Constructive contacts have been established with all major participants of this process. Special attention is paid to the National Libyan Army Commander, Field-Marshal H. Haftar. The United States preferences the head of the Government of national accord F. Sarraj.

The attempts to interfere into Russia – South Africa using the resignation of president J. Zuma who firmly stood for friendship with Moscow have failed. The new president S. Ramaphosa has confirmed the policy of strong bilateral cooperation.


USA, US President Administration, Russian Federation, Africa, African policy, Russian-African relations, Bilateral relations, Egypt, Libya, South Africa




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