Russia is vying to offer African countries a credible alternative to the US and China

Russia has never had an African colony. It stayed out of the scramble for Africa, only engaging with African states in the 19th Century. In 1869, for instance, the Russians gave Ethiopia military support to threaten the position of the British in their quest to control the Suez Canal. They did this because Britain was one of their main European rivals.

It wasn’t until the Cold War started in 1947 that Russia began to develop diplomatic relations with several African countries. This was a way to counter the influence of its rivals such as the US.

The Cold War dictated the former USSR’s relations with many African countries for decades. This was followed by a period of relative inactivity. But more recently, relations have become increasingly important for Russia as well as some African countries.

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