A Base in Darkest Africa?

Only four days ago, we took a look at the de luxe Sochi summit on Africa. The President of the Central African Republic, Touadéra, heads a landlocked former French colony blessed with diamonds but rent by ethnic division, endowed with a benighted climate where it is either too dry or too wet but always too hot. Touadéra generously suggests the Russians establish a military base in his country. But the same Russians who cautioned against pouring into Syria are sounding the alarm again. “Beware of the Greeks, even when they are bearing gifts!” Previous escapades in Africa beginning with Nikita Khrushchev’s opening to Guinea Bissau in 1957, rash support for the unstable and brutal Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, then backing for liberation wars in Angola and Mozambique, and the escapades in Ethiopia and Somalia, all did nothing for Russia and ended only in grief on all sides. Commentary in Nezavisimaya gazeta today from deputy editor Andrei Riskin, a naval captain who knows all about bases, pours cold water on any heated ideas of building more bases in the region.

Riskin asks: “Why a Russian military base there? What would be stationed there? Tu-160 strategic bombers, or, for example, the Tu-22-M3, Solntsepeki or Grady tanks? Do we have so much surplus money in the treasury or have we seriously decided to fight in Africa? In which case we would like to know with whom. So, after the millions on Syria, millions more on the Central African Republic…”

25.10.2019 13:33:00

Нужна ли России военная база в центре Африки

   The signs are that the Africa lobby in Russia’s deep state have already been mobilising to follow through on the Sochi summit. A further, anonymous piece that shows every sign of having been hastily patched together and equally hastily edited – one suspects in a desperate bid to hold off an initiative from the Kremlin that Russia might have good cause to regret – has also appeared in the same issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta under the title “Moscow’s African Agenda”:

22.10.2019 19:57:00

Африканская повестка Москвы

The opinion column also makes no bones about what a disaster it could be to give into the temptation of plunging back into the African quagmire. It insists that the political risks are too high and that the main competitor would be China, which is heavily embedded in the continent, having handed out lavish, cheap loans to the point that many African states are muttering about “yellow imperialism.” An opportunity for others? Perhaps not.