AFRICOM CHALLENGED: Will Russia do peacekeeping in Africa?

Russia should play a key role in maintaining peace in Africa, Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Sunday.

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In a direct challenge to the US’s AFRICOM in central Africa, Russia must play a key role in maintaining peace in Africa, Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Sunday. 

The Rwandan foreign minister said to Sergei Lavrov that the country wants to maintain closer contacts with Russia, especially with regard to ensuring peace and security in the region.

“We believe that Russia could play a key role, in particular, in maintaining peace in Africa,” Mushikiwabo said.

“We have already had the opportunity to work together in the past … [Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Rwanda] is an important step in our bilateral relations, and we agreed to see each other in our capitals more often and organize a presidential-level visit,” he added.

In addition, during the briefing Sergei Lavrov indicated that Russia and Rwanda are negotiating the probable supply of Russian anti-aircraft defense systems.

“We maintain good cooperation in the technical-military area [with Rwanda].” Rwandan security forces and the army have our helicopters, Ural vehicles, and small arms in their operational service,” said Lavrov.

Overall, the considerations being made by the Rwandan officials mirror that of numerous African states who see the encroachment of AFRICOM – the US’s African military command – as problematic.

Rwanda has indicated that as regional threats from the US escalate, Russia will be requested to perform a peacekeeping role. While Russia may ultimately be asked to build security and emergency installations at the request of sovereign African states who have broken free of colonialism, it should be recalled that the US’s AFRICOM is in fact based in Germany.

In the meta-narrative of many African countries, the US and countries of the EU are seen as historically aggressive and colonizing powers, whereas Russia is associated with the funding of nationalist and communist ‘national liberation’ movements during the post-colonial period.

China are also making significant inroads in Africa. The Russian Council for International Affairs indicates that, since 2009, China has been Africa’s main trading partner. As a result, trade reached US $ 220 billion (US $ 821.6 billion) in 2014. Although the index has fallen to US $ 180 billion, China continues to lead trade issues in Africa.

The same is true of Chinese investments in Africa that reached US $ 100 billion in 2017.

They are substantial values ​​compared to Europe, where Chinese investments amounted to US $35 billion in 2016. It should be noted that in Europe there has also been a significant increase in investment since 2010, but was not as bulky as the African continent.

In addition, Beijing is leading on “aid” issues in Africa. Some 240,000 African specialists are expected to receive training in the coming years. Kosyrev linked these data from the continent’s development with the Chinese economy, which will entail transferring significant parts of Chinese factories to the African continent.

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