The current frontline situation in Ukraine in the Russian war is somewhat opaque. While some military experts see the slow but steady progress of the Russians in the Donbass and other areas, others see more „abandonment“ and dillsuion of the Russian troops, moreover, Russia has now shelled Odessa, now again Kyiv, Lavrov said the aim of the war was to overthrow the Ukrainian government and Russia is also considering annexing Transnistria, i.e. taking over southern Ukraine up to Moldova, although a number of experts consider this to be wishful thinking and believe that Putin could be happy if he held the Donbass. So does Ed Arnold, who prophesies that a game-changing event could be if Putin takes Donbass under Russian nuclear protection:
„Russian Armed Forces Are Running Out of Air“
Russia’s offensive in the Donbass is progressing slowly. However, Moscow would like to place the areas it has already conquered under its nuclear deterrent umbrella as soon as possible. Why, says military expert Ed Arnold.”
Henry Kissinger was criticized in Davos for speaking out in favor of peace negotiations with Russia, with Kissinger now correcting in an interview with ZDF that the aim of the war should be the reconquest of Russian territories in Ukraine, and in this context the NATO and US strategy of nuclear deterrence must be reconsidered in a more offensive direction so that Putin sits like the rabbit in front of the snake and does not escalate. In addition, Kissinger started his meteoric career in the 1950s with his essay “Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy” thanks to Nelson Rockefeller, in which he advocated limited nuclear wars and rose to become Special Advisor to Kennedy, then National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to Nixon. This also led to the USA, following his advice under Kennedy, deploying Jupiter medium-range nuclear missiles in Turkey, to which the Soviet Union responded by deploying nuclear medium-range missiles in Cuba, triggering the Cuban Missile Crisis, which almost led to World War III. Kennedy and Khrushchev then withdrew their nuclear missiles in Cuba and Turkey and the chapter on limited nuclear war was forgotten until Reagan and Colin S. Gray put them back on the agenda in the 1980s after the Soviet Union deployed the SS-20. Pretty successful. Maybe Kissniger wants to repeat that. Donbass under a Russian nuclear shield would, of course, change the premises of the proxy war. Especially since one wonders: Would this nuclear shield also apply to the West if Ukraine still tries to recapture the territories of Donbass and Crimea or perhaps is used as a pretext for tactical, limited nuclear strikes in Ukraine. For the time being it remains to be seen whether Putin will take this step.
Meanwhile, Lavrov is starting a trip to Africa in order to further break up the western sanctions front diplomatically, if not economically. Two good reports on this as recommended reading:
“Lavrov in Africa Russia is looking to join forces with Africa
Status: 07/26/2022 06:47 a.m
Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov is traveling through Africa on a publicity tour of Moscow’s position on the Ukraine conflict. The message: The West is to blame for the food crisis. He also wants to expand Russia’s position in Africa.
A warm hug with the counterpart directly on the tarmac in Oyo. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov seems as if he meets his counterpart Jean-Claude Gakosso more often. At least here, in the Republic of Congo, no important member of the government has ever landed from Moscow – allegedly not even in Soviet times. But Russia has everyone in Africa in view, the message goes: not just Egypt, which is traditionally important, but above all the states of sub-Saharan Africa, which Moscow has been trying so hard to protect for years. Likewise the Republic of the Congo. Of course, the food crisis is the main topic of the travel marathon. “There is no reason that grain deliveries to customers cannot start according to the Istanbul Agreement. It’s not our fault,” Lavrov said once again in Oyo. He actually sent out the more important messages earlier, in a long article that appeared in newspapers in the four countries he is visiting. Moscow wants political influence „We are committed to the principle of ‚African solutions to African problems,'“ Lavrov writes. This differs from the „master-slave“ principle of others, who would only repeat the „colonial model that has become superfluous“. “The bloody crimes of colonialism do not cling to our country. We have always sincerely given practical support to Africans in their struggle for liberation from colonial oppression.”
Russia as liberator, even if the international solidarity from Soviet times – if it ever existed – seems more like folklore in relations with Moscow today. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is trying to follow in the footsteps of China and the West. It’s about political influence and natural resources in exchange for what Russia has to offer. And because Russia is not a grand master in consumer goods and international infrastructure projects, it is often about weapons and security. Instead of raw materials, Russia supplies weapons According to the peace research institute SIPRI, Russia is now responsible for almost half of all arms imports to Africa. Over the past ten years, Moscow has concluded military aid agreements with more than 20 countries on the continent. It’s about a billion-dollar market, about weapons of war, but also about mercenaries, for which Russia regularly denies any responsibility. Payment is often made in mineral resources, where Africa has a lot to offer.
Europe, the USA and China have their experiences – but Russia now wants to be part of it. Even when it comes to preparing the ground in the respective countries. “Recently, Russia has been focusing more and more on culture, such as Russian language classes in schools,” says Philip Nyinguro, a political scientist at the University of Nairobi. Sports festivals in schools or the development of radio programs like in the Central African Republic – it is important to win the hearts of the population, and Moscow has also understood that. Values that the West would like to see represented in Africa, such as democracy and human rights, are not on the agenda – in line with Lavrov’s maxim of his own African path. Lavrov seeks solidarity
That is probably one reason why Uganda and its President Museveni are on Lavrov’s visit plan. In the presidential elections last year, Museveni was criticized by the US and the EU for using violence against the opposition. There was more understanding from Russia – and he needs that too. After all, Museveni wants to make his son his successor without making a fuss. Political scientist Nyinguro says: “If Museveni wants to hand power over to family members, then he does better with Russia and China. Because none of that will matter to them.” At the end of his trip, Lavrov will present his ideas about the causes of and possible solutions to the food crisis to ambassadors from other African countries in Addis Ababa, the seat of the African Union. Most countries on the continent are still trying to remain impartial in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, at least outwardly. Whether Lavrov will succeed in convincing states of Russia’s good intentions and winning them over to his side remains to be seen. They will listen to him – that too should be a success for Lavrov.
Nice analysis, but Russia’s influence is not only limited to MENA and Subsahara, but also with Angola, South Africa, etc. as well as BRICS on southern Africa together with the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea. So all of Africa. With such one-sided reports, it would also be interesting to what extent the EU with Global Gateways and the G7 with Global Infrastructure Partnership would counteract this and how that would be received. And what is AFRICOM actually doing in Stuttgart in Africa?
“Lavrov on a trip to Africa – Russia in Africa – little effort, great effect
Author: An analysis by Fredy Gsteiger Tuesday, 07/26/2022, 4:43 p.m
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UN member countries took a position in the General Assembly. The result: 18 African countries did not want to condemn the invasion. A disappointment for the West. A disappointment with announcement. The Russians have been expanding their network of contacts in Africa for years. As a trading partner and investor, Russia is a non-value compared to China or the West. But it achieves a lot with little. Mainly with arms deliveries and mercenaries, with which Moscow supports shaky regimes. The Kremlin is doing this opportunistically and with modest ambitions: it is not striving to develop African states, neither economically nor politically. It also does not represent the interests of African peoples, but consistently supports African rulers, mainly autocrats. It seizes opportunities where the West shows weakness and angers local leaders.
So it pulls them to his side on the international stage. Russia doesn’t want more. China also has destinations in Africa The increased Russian involvement does not bother China’s circles either. Beijing itself has far more ambitious goals in Africa than Russia. Not only does it want to rally the African countries behind it politically, it also wants to open up their huge raw material reserves for itself. And at some point the billions in Chinese investment in African infrastructure should pay off. The fact that Russia is disrupting Western powers with its Africa policy is just fine with the Chinese leadership. If, alongside China, Russia is now amazingly successful in positioning itself in Africa, that has a lot to do with Western mistakes. The USA in particular has been neglecting the continent for a long time. Beijing has overtaken Washington by far as a trading partner and investor. Ex-US President Donald Trump had nothing but contempt for Africa. For Joe Biden, at least, it’s not a priority. In addition: Western development aid, Western investments or trade agreements with Western countries are subject to conditions: democracy, good governance and the fight against corruption are expected. Africa’s heads of state perceive such things as encroaching. No such demands are coming from Beijing or Moscow. This is attractive, especially for African potentates. Russia benefits from colonial history
But what helps Russia more than anything else is that it has never had colonies in Africa itself. Africans are still grateful for the financial and military support of the then Soviet Union in their liberation struggles. Even three quarters of a century after the fall of the European empires, the memory of the colonial empires can still be used to make political capital. Moscow uses this very cleverly.
18 of about 50 African states neutral and against sanctions in the Russian war in Ukraine. And the rest? Of course, Egypt, Uganda, Ethiopia including the AU and Congo are not unimportant but key players in Africa, along with BRICS South Africa and Angola, which he doesn’t even have to visit. Also interesting is Russia’s positioning in Angola between the MPLA daughter of Dos Santos and the current ruler. There was also a lengthy report on Al Jazzerra yesterday about Lavrov’s trip to Africa. The tenor was that Western reporting far overestimated Russia’s influence in Africa and inflated it in a propaganda manner. In addition, this year there will be beyond Russia’s Africa summit an Africa Summit in the USA, after China has already established this. But on the soft power side, European colonialism, US slavery and Trump’s classification of African states as „shitholes“ still prevail, while the Russians want to shine like the Chinese as non-colonialists on Africa and their Soviet history of supporting decolonization movements.
Especially since the Friedrich Naumann Foundation of the FDP asked African elite representatives why China is so successful in Africa:
„The Clash of the systems: why is China so successful in Africa?“
New study provides insights from the African perspective Over the past fifteen years, China has positioned itself as a major partner and investor in Africa. When it comes to infrastructure projects and trading in raw materials, China has supplanted Europe as the most important partner on the continent. This new competition puts European trade, investment and development policies in Africa to the test. Maps of the top importers for African countries show China’s limited footprint in Africa in 2000 compared to its near-ubiquitous influence in 2019 – a development that has occurred in just two decades. In order to better understand the different strategies of China and Europe and how they are perceived in Africa, the Global Partnership Hub of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Nairobi surveyed more than 1,600 African decision-makers.
The results of the online survey conducted by the Kenyan think tank IREN (Inter Region Economic Network) are presented in the study „The Clash of Systems – African Perception of the European Union and China Engagement“. Accordingly, the Chinese success in Africa has four main reasons: China is quicker in making decisions and implementing projects, it interferes less in the internal affairs of its African partners and it has fewer scruples about corruption. In many other indicators of success, Europe is ahead in the judgment of those surveyed. The quality of European products and services is valued higher than that of China. The EU also leads the field in terms of transparency, job creation for Africans, working conditions and environmental standards.
“While the EU performs better on most performance indicators, China continues to gain ground in Africa. This apparent paradox is easy to explain: the aspects of the cooperation where China excels are particularly relevant to the African partners,” explains James Shikwati, Founder and CEO of IREN. „China is focusing on large, material projects, while Europe in Africa is concentrating on small-scale and often more abstract projects.“ China is a leader in the realization of large construction projects. The Chinese state-owned companies have redrawn the map of Africa – with rails, roads, bridges, ports, dams and skyscrapers. This is also reflected in the survey of African decision-makers. The statement „China supports the development of infrastructure in Africa“ is supported by 85.5 percent of the participants, for Europe only 64.2 percent see it that way. The results of the study suggest that China will fill the existing gap and overtake the EU in most aspects of cooperation with Africa in the near future. China has shown that it can successfully manage engagement with the 55 African nation-states. It is well on the way to replacing the traditional supremacy of European states in Africa.
You can find the study “Clash of Systems” here:
Stefan Schott is head of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in East Africa and the Global Partnership Hub based in Nairobi.”
Especially since France tries in West Africa to push back Russian influence, albeit with dwindling success, with the taz criticizing France for its “hypocrisy” and the Green newspaper is only thinking of democracy, human and LGBTIQ rights, which African autocrats perceive as neocolonialism and interference in internal affairs, and not talking about the uranium deposits in Mali and Niger, which are as important to France’s nuclear industry as the supply of other strategic raw materials from Africa:
„Macron’s West Africa trip: France’s old hypocrisy
During a visit to the West African ex-colonies, French President Macron is looking for allies against Putin. He cares little about human rights. France, once the largest colonial power in West Africa, urgently needs to reposition itself after the disaster in Mali. For a long time it was clear that the anti-terrorist mission „Barkhane“ would not achieve its goals, would go it alone and break agreements. In West Africa, this has led to an anti-French mood that has not been seen in a long time. A different approach to Africa policy is needed.
In Benin, the second stop of his trip to Africa, President Emmanuel Macron is therefore trying to gain ground with relatively harmless areas such as education and culture. Benin last year recovered 26 objects stolen by French troops in the late 19th century. Macron himself announced restitutions in 2017. France is giving back dignity and history to the former colony. Benin’s President Patrice Talon, in turn, constructs a sense of pride and community. Both sides shine, which is a very clever move. In Cameroon, the first stop of the trip, it was different. There, Macron accused Africa of “hypocrisy” in relation to the Ukraine war. African states in particular would not clearly condemn the Russian attack. President Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, counters with Cameroon’s right of non-interference. But Macron also practices this hypocrisy himself.
In Cameroon, he does not address the Anglophone crisis, which has caused almost 580,000 people to flee, or violence against the LGBT community. In Benin, too, he does not mention that the two opposition politicians, Joël Aivo and Reckya Madougou, are serving long prison sentences after questionable allegations and trials and that democracy is being further restricted. It is clear that since Russia is now obviously and massively courting allies in Africa, Europe and especially France are under pressure to act. Strategic alliances count for more than respect for human rights and protection of the constitution.”
In addition, it is pretended that the US has opted out of Africa, which is not the case with investments. In addition, there is also the well-hidden Africom in Stuttgart, which does not provide Wagner mercenaries, but also military advisers.
A former German diplomat wrote to us:
“Agree with you: we must not overestimate the influence of Russia in Africa. But: It remains to be said that the position of the RF on the Dark Continent has strengthened again over the past two decades and that Moscow is surprisingly listened to and understood in the current situation. I would not have expected it to this extent.”
Well, that depends on what the West is doing. It’s not a law of nature. You might not get that far with feminist foreign policy alone and insulting African states as shitholes, but reducing the West to human rights policy is just as much a reductionist and self-idealizing view. You could already see that during the visit of the Egyptian President General Al Sissi in Berlin, which will now be followed by a climate summit in Egypt and climate change, like grain deliveries, is an important topic in the Greater Middle East, MENA and Africa, especially since the resistance has decreased in the Global South since the EU decision to label nuclear power and gas as green renewable energies. Hence our question about western investments, Global Gateway, Global Infrastructure Partnership, German military operations in the G5 Sahel and Africom.