Russia to dispatch military specialists to Congo

Russia and the Republic of the Congo have signed a bilateral agreement to dispatch Russian military specialists to the Republic of Congo to advise the African country and repair the Soviet equipment; a move that further increases Moscow’s footprint on the African continent.

The ceremony of exchanging the documents took place at the Kremlin in the presence of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and The Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso, with Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin signed the contract from the Russian side.

According to Formin, the contract signed with the Republic of Congo is concerning the maintenance and operation of Soviet-and Russian-made military hardware in the inventory of the African republic. “The bulk of this military hardware – armoured vehicles, soft-skin vehicles, missile and conventional artillery as well as helicopters among other hardware – can remain in service for a very long time,” he noted.

Just like China, many countries want a piece of the African pie and Russia is no different. The country has been spreading its contemporary presence in Africa. Previously, during the peak of the Soviet Union, there was a strong Russian influence in Africa. The post-independence governments of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Benin at some point all received diplomatic or military support from the Soviet Union.

More recently, the Central African Republic (CAR) the Republic of Congo are the latest African nations to sign military co-operation agreements. Since Western nations sanctioned Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014, Moscow has signed at least 20 military cooperation deals in sub-Saharan Africa, including with Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Interaction between Russia and Africa has grown exponentially this century, with trade and investment growing by 185 percent between 2005 and 2015.

Russia and the Republic of the Congo are also engaged in negotiations on supplies of Russian military hardware to that African country. “Negotiations are underway. We expect to have a request on supplies of new hardware. This republic does have things to defend. It is rich, while the main treasure of any state is its independence and sovereignty,” the Deputy Defence Minister Fomin said.