You are currently viewing Assessing Africa-EU Relations vis-à-vis Russian Influence in Africa

Assessing Africa-EU Relations vis-à-vis Russian Influence in Africa

Written by Irene Patassini

The Russia-Africa Summit of 2019 at Sochi represented a turning point for Russian and African relations, creating a common conceptual base to build mutual cooperation in various sectors (Fioramonti, 2009). Although Russia cannot compete with Western economic influence and investment capacities, it is nevertheless gaining ground in the diplomatic, military and information domains (Siegle, 2022). Russia is currently strengthening its ties especially with unstable and undemocratic regimes, filling the gaps that the “normative power” of the European Union is suffering in Africa (Fioramonti, 2009). Indeed, diplomatic relations between the EU and other African countries are bound to the conditionality of democratic values and human rights compliance which have received growing criticism from political representatives of Africa’s civil society (Fioramonti, 2009). Therefore, Russia presents itself as a non-interfering power that avoids imposing its values on its partners and treats them equally. Russia’s goal is to discredit the image of the EU and the West in general, accusing it of paternalistic discourse and imperialistic aims (Islam, 2022). 

This paper will analyse to what extent Africa past relations with Russia and the West have affected present African geopolitics. To reach this goal an historical overview of the legacy of the USSR will be provided, complementing this theoretical part with the effects that the colonial legacy still produces, hampering EU-Africa relations. Following this, in order to assess future developments in Russia-Africa relations, it is fundamental to evaluate the implications of the food and economic crisis in Africa as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as evaluating the effects of the recovery of many European countries with energetic ties with Africa after Russia’s weaponization of the energy policies. Finally, this research paper aims to provide some recommendations to strengthen Africa-EU relations in the near future as a result of the window of opportunity opened by the Russia-Ukraine war.