Russian leader Vladimir Putin has apparently made Africa a “top priority” for Russia’s new imperial ambitions. This, according to a leaked secret German Foreign Ministry report, is also why Russia is now building secret new military bases in six African countries.
According to the leaked German document, these countries are the Central African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Sudan.
SOFREP reported that the German news daily, Bild, cited the report showing Russia’s expanding role in Africa. The report states that “since 2015, Russia has concluded military cooperation agreements with 21 countries in Africa.” According to Bild, before that, there were only four prior military cooperation treaties across the entire continent.
Putin is especially interested in gaining access to a port in Sudan since it sits on the strategic Red Sea. The Russians have also long been trying to establish a logistical base in Eritrea, reports SOFREP.
Eritrea’s two ports, in Massawa and Assab, occupy strategic points along the Red Sea…between the two countries, it will also allow the Russians, in both Eritrea and Sudan, to collect intelligence and possibly encroach on shipping going through the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and the Arabian Seas. This would obviously include U.S. warships sailing to, or from, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Beyond that, the German reports stated, according to SOFREP, that there are 180 Russian “official” army instructors based in the Central African Republic. This is reportedly in addition to between 250 and 1,000 Russian “civilian” contractors from the Wagner Group in the country as well. As I have noted previously, the Wagner Group is likely an unofficial arm of Russian military intelligence – GRU (RELATED: Hybrid Warfare – Russia Sends Warplanes to Back Wagner Group ‘Mercenaries’ in Libya).
SOFREP notes that German Foreign Ministry experts call the Wagner Group a Russian “hybrid instrument [of] political, economic, and military influence.” It gives Putin plausible – or implausible – deniability. The Wagner Group is also operating elsewhere in Africa in support of Kremlin objectives, including backing General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
In North Africa, the goal of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is mostly to limit the chaos caused by the second Libyan Civil War.
In addition to a limited U.S. military presence in Africa focused primarily on counter-terrorism, SOFREP explains that the Russians will have to compete with the French who are “deployed in the Central African Republic and the neighboring countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania, and Chad — all of them former French colonies.”
“The French presence is part of the ongoing war against Islamic jihadists in the Sahel region.”
Russia may also be competing with increasing Chinese influence throughout the region as well. Expect more tensions and conflict arising in Africa as Russia and China increase their footprint in the world’s second-largest continent.