4 December 2020

Russia’s Showy and Shadowy Engagements in Sub-Saharan Africa

The new CMS Report ”Russia’s Showy and Shadowy Engagements in Sub-Saharan Africa” focuses on Russia’s renewed engagements in Africa – including both "showy" and "shadowy" dimensions – and analyses the implications of the Russian presence for the African states and for future Western humanitarian and peacekeeping interventions.

Firstly, the report identifies three aspects of Russia’s showy presence - weapons sales, military bases, military training - as well as some more shadowy Russian engagement tools, e.g. the use of mercenaries and disinformation campaigns. Secondly, the report analyses how Russian engagement tools are put to use in different ways - frequently disruptive, yet sometimes gesturing towards collaboration. Finally, the report discusses the impact of current Russian engagements on African states and on liberal intervention actors, which is followed by a number of policy recommendations.

The report argues that the growing presence of external, non-liberal actors in Africa is becoming ever more significant, and that it is important to have a nuanced understanding of this presence. Contrary to many rivalry framings of Russia's renewed engagements, this report also points to some more collaborative aspects. Critically exploring Russia’s contemporary presence in Africa should not get in the way of asking questions about the liberal intervention model. This include questions about how the inadequacies of ‘liberal’ actors may have contributed to making African states more receptive to Russian rapprochements.

You can read and download the report here.