What Joint Drills With South African, Russian Navies Mean for China 

South Africa is under fire for host­ing joint naval exer­cis­es with Rus­sia dur­ing the one-year anniver­sary of the inva­sion of Ukraine, with crit­ics say­ing it will be a pro­pa­gan­da vic­to­ry for Moscow. But what does the third par­tic­i­pant in the drills, Chi­na, have to gain from the tri­par­tite exer­cis­es tak­ing place this week? Some ana­lysts told…

Former US security officials: We did ‘everything possible’ to bring Russia into international systems — Fox News

NEWYou can now lis­ten to Fox News arti­cles!  For­mer secu­ri­ty offi­cials insist that the Unit­ed States made every effort to inte­grate Rus­sia, reject­ing claims that Amer­i­ca “tried to humil­i­ate” the for­mer Sovi­et Union.  “I will go out on a limb here and say that I think every­body from the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion to the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, to…

How Russia’s Wagner Group Is Expanding in Africa

Best known for its mer­ce­nar­ies, the Wag­n­er Group also mines dia­monds, spreads dis­in­for­ma­tion and props up auto­crats in an effort to grow Russia’s foot­print. Mer­ce­nar­ies are enjoy­ing a resur­gence in Africa, hired to fight in some of the continent’s most intractable con­flicts. Per­haps the most famous out­fit is the Wag­n­er Group, a neb­u­lous net­work that…

In Mali, a Massacre With a Russian Footprint

BAMAKO, Mali — On the last Sun­day in March before Ramadan, thou­sands of mer­chants and vil­lagers filled the mar­ket of Moura, in cen­tral Mali, trad­ing cat­tle in a vast pen and stock­ing up on spices and veg­eta­bles in the town’s sandy alleys. Sud­den­ly, five low-fly­­ing heli­copters thrummed over­head, some fir­ing weapons and draw­ing gun­fire in…

Putin’s World Order Would Be Devastating for Africa

On March 2, mem­ber states of the Unit­ed Nations Gen­er­al Assem­bly vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly in favor of a res­o­lu­tion that strong­ly con­demned Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s war of aggres­sion against Ukraine. The res­o­lu­tion, which was sup­port­ed by 141 mem­ber states, affirmed that “any attempt aimed at the … dis­rup­tion of the ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty of a State…

New EU military missions in West Africa to counter Russia — EUobserver

The EU is aim­ing to launch three new mil­i­tary mis­sions in West Africa after Rus­sia pushed Europe out of the Cen­tral African Repub­lic (CAR) and Mali and threat­ens to do so in Burk­i­na Faso. The new mis­sions ought to be in Burk­i­na Faso, one of the Gulf of Guinea states, and in Niger accord­ing to a “strate­gic review” paper by the EU for­eign ser­vice dat­ed 25 May and seen by EUobserver. 

Niger slat­ed to host EU mil­i­tary train­ing mis­sion (Pho­to: Jean Rebiffe)

The Niger mis­sion is the first to go ahead after Nige­rien author­i­ties request­ed an EU “logis­tic and main­te­nance cen­tre of excel­lence in the vicin­i­ty of Niamey”, it said.

But the EU is keen “to go beyond this ini­tial request to also cov­er a ‘train, equip and accom­pa­ny’ pack­age for spe­cif­ic units or even a full-scale mil­i­tary oper­a­tion to accom­pa­ny Nige­rien armed forces to combat”. 

Burk­in­abe armed forces “dur­ing dis­cus­sions at tech­ni­cal lev­el” asked the EU for a sim­i­lar pack­age, the EU for­eign ser­vice said. 

But Burk­i­na Faso is play­ing a dou­ble game, because it also sent a high-lev­el mil­i­tary del­e­ga­tion to Mali in mid-April and the EU sus­pects it dis­cussed using Russ­ian mer­ce­nar­ies to fight jihadists the same way Mali has done. 

“The pos­si­bil­i­ty of a repli­ca­tion of the Malian mod­el [in Burk­i­na Faso] and the use of Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed forces can­not be ruled out,” the EU for­eign ser­vice warned. 

The Gulf of Guinea project is in its infancy. 

But the EU for­eign ser­vice spoke of cre­at­ing “a lim­it­ed mil­i­tary foot­print in one iden­ti­fied coastal state” that would host EU mil­i­tary train­ers who could car­ry out “bespoke” mis­sions in the region. 

The EU mil­i­tary expan­sion comes after Rus­sia pushed out French-led Euro­pean forces from CAR last year and then Mali this year in what is increas­ing­ly look­ing like an African front in Rus­si­a’s geopo­lit­i­cal clash with the West.

The EU also hopes to cre­ate its own rapid reac­tion force by 2025 designed to fight in places such as the Sahel in what French pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron has cham­pi­oned as Europe’s “strate­gic autonomy”. 

The new EU force must be ready to go into com­bat to defend Europe’s inter­ests, the EU for­eign ser­vice paper said. 

EU coun­tries must “accept the risks asso­ci­at­ed with clos­er accom­pa­ni­ment of part­ner forces clos­er to the com­bat zone”, it said.

But for all Macron and the EU for­eign ser­vice’s talk, Russ­ian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s push into Françafrique risks mak­ing the EU ambi­tions appear like too lit­tle too late. 

The EU fold­ed its CAR mis­sion in Decem­ber 2021 after Krem­lin-linked mer­ce­nar­ies from the Wag­n­er group took com­mand of EU-trained sol­diers and com­mit­ted atrocities. 

It also sus­pend­ed its Mali mil­i­tary and civil­ian train­ing mis­sions in May after Mali brought in Wag­n­er mer­ce­nar­ies to fight jihadists. 

Rep­u­ta­tion damage

The EU pull-back was due “to pre­vent any rep­u­ta­tion­al risk due to Malian defence and secu­ri­ty forces trained by the EU falling under the con­trol or engag­ing along of Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed forces, as it had been observed in the cen­tre of the coun­try”, the EU for­eign ser­vice said.

The EU had fund­ed new mil­i­tary camps in Kon­na, Tomin­ian, Timis­sa, Sayed, and Kori­entze in cen­tral Mali and trained sol­diers and gen­darmes there in the past two years, the EU paper noted. 

But “the units (both Nation­al Guard and Nation­al Gen­darmerie) in these posts, which were trained by EUCAP Sahel Mali [the EU mis­sion] pri­or to their deploy­ment, are now under mil­i­tary com­mand and are inte­grat­ed in joint oper­a­tions with Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed forces,” the EU paper noted. 

“It is also assessed that Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed forces are grad­u­al­ly more present and influ­en­tial at the strate­gic lev­el” in Malian mil­i­tary cir­cles, the EU warned. 

And now Malian sol­diers “togeth­er with Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed forces” were “ter­ror­is­ing the pop­u­la­tion with puni­tive raids, tar­get­ing the Fulani com­mu­ni­ty in par­tic­u­lar”, the EU said. 

“Reports of vio­lence on civil­ians have reached unprece­dent­ed lev­els,” it said. “It is evi­dent that Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed forces’ pres­ence along­side the MAF [Malian Armed Forces] coin­cides with seri­ous and sys­tem­at­ic human rights violations”. 

The few EU mil­i­tary and civil­ian train­ers who are stay­ing on in Mali will do so to main­tain some con­tact with Malian mil­i­tary com­man­ders and keep an eye on Russ­ian deployments. 

“It is assessed that about 1,000 Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed per­son­nel, most­ly rely­ing on Malian equip­ment, are deployed in Mali, with a notable pres­ence in Sévaré, Ségou, Niono, Tim­buk­tu and Gos­si in MAF camps,” the EU for­eign ser­vice said. 

“Air Base 101, in Bamako, is used as a logis­ti­cal hub for their deploy­ment,” it added. 

Wag­n­er’s pres­ence was accom­pa­nied by a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign which aimed at “deflect­ing atten­tion from Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed forces atroc­i­ties against civil­ians” and con­tained anti-French “pan-African­ist” ide­ol­o­gy, it noted.

And all that was tak­ing place amid poten­tial­ly lucra­tive Malian min­er­al reserves as well as dire pover­ty and inse­cu­ri­ty for ordi­nary peo­ple — 6 mil­lion of whom need­ed food aid in a coun­try where one in five schools are closed. 

Not enough

Look­ing back to CAR, the coun­try has become so close­ly tied to Rus­sia that it now teach­es Russ­ian in its schools and offered Putin to send fight­ers to Ukraine. 

But if the Russ­ian leader want­ed to ful­ly repli­cate his CAR suc­cess in Mali, he might have to com­mit more resources than at present, the EU for­eign ser­vice said. 

Jihadist attacks against Malian camps in March and April showed that “around 1,000 Rus­sia-affil­i­at­ed forces along with the MAF are not enough to clear and hold the cen­tre of the coun­try”, the EU paper noted. 

“The sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the Russ­ian sup­port to Mali in the cur­rent glob­al envi­ron­ment is also ques­tion­able,” the EU added, refer­ring to Putin’s mil­i­tary loss­es on his pri­ma­ry bat­tle­fields in Ukraine.

How currency sanctions on Russia could disrupt trade with Africa

Intro­duc­tion Finan­cial sanc­tions tend to hurt both the sanc­tioned and the sanc­tion­er, but they also threat­en to hurt coun­tries that are finan­cial­ly inter­linked with the sanc­tioned coun­try. Recent sanc­tions levied on Rus­sia by the Unit­ed States and the Euro­pean Union in response to Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine are dis­rupt­ing glob­al trade and finan­cial net­works across…