Moscow’s Dwindling Allure:
Analysts from the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace have labelled the 2023 Russia-Africa summit, which took place on July 27-28th, a stark sign of Russia’s “waning influence” in the continent. Out of the 49 nations invited, only 17 heads of state attended. Furthermore, Putin’s grandiose emphasis on the issues facing Moscow and its African allies, such as, “Western hegemony”, “social and economic inequality”, and “external impacts” which affect financial partnerships did not appear to entirely resonate. As the Wagner group’s increased activity in the continent of late has many nations, particularly those within ECOWAS, focused instead on regional security.
Hunger and Inflation: The Consequences of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed in July 2022 as a result of Turkish and UN mediation, allowed the previously blocked Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi to continue the export of thousands of tonnes of Grain and fertiliser to dependent nations such as Drought-hit Kenya and Somalia, who is facing a major famine.
On the 17th of July Putin announced that Moscow would be abandoning the deal, likely the result of unmet guarantees that the export of Russian food and fertiliser would be boosted. The Kremlin claims that this never materialised.
With various African countries suffering from the effects of high inflation and economic stagnation, as a result of the abandoned grain deal, leaders took to the Summit to voice their concerns. South Africa’s Ramaphosa, Egypt’s El-Sisi, and Comoros’s Assoumani stressed the need for the continuation of the deal. “The grain deal must be extended for the benefit of all the peoples of the world, Africans in particular.”
In an attempt at compensation, Moscow pledged increased investment in the continent and donations of grain and fertiliser over the next several months to Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, and Zimbabwe, with their leaders, unsurprisingly claiming solidarity with Russia.
The Wagner Effect:
Wagner Group front-man, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was also witnessed attending the Summit. With an escalation of the spat between Niger and other ECOWAS members over the reinstatement of former President Mohamed Bazoum highly likely, in line with its known practices, Wagner is certain to insert itself. Not only would the extension of Wagner’s influence not bode well for African independence, but also increase the likelihood of Africa becoming scene to some multidimensional proxy conflict between specific stakeholders in the West such as France and the United States, and Russia and its African Allies.