Russia seeks to renew its ties in Africa through debt relief and trade partnerships

After over 10 years hiatus, Russia seeks renewed ties with Africa as Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, visits Rwanda’s President to discuss economic development, fighting terrorism and Russia’s involvement with the Africa Union.

The minister’s Rwandan visit highlights Russia’s interest in deepening its involvement across the continent. In March, Lavrov’s embarked on a five-nation (Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia) Africa tour emphasizing the role of international support on the continent and the need for African solutions.

Shortly after the African tour, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would write off more than $20 billion in debt contracted by African nations to help the continent overcome poverty, showing Russia’s commitments to strengthening its African ties.

According to Paul Stronski, a member of Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Russia is looking at Africa as a potential trading partner. It is looking at Africa as a partner in this desire of Russia to create a multipolar world.”

Previous African-Russian partnerships have been on arms sales. There have been documentations of such deals between Russia and at least 30 African nations. Data from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed.

Russia’s partnership has also gone beyond arms to deals and have extended to mineral extraction and providing nuclear power. Though experts say the consequences of Russia’s re-emergence and involvement on the continent are not immediately clear, they however note that the implications could be profound, especially with new undefined opportunities to partner with China and United states.