Russian Private Military Contractors in Sub-Saharan Africa: Strengths, Limitations and Implications Russie.Nei.Visions, No. 120, Ifri, September 2020
Since 2014, Russia has notably intensified its policies in Africa, joining the race for local markets and opportunities presented by the rapidly growing and transforming continent.
In pursuit of its geo-economic/political objectives in Africa, Russia relies on military-technical cooperation and “security export” mechanisms as its main competitive advantages. Aside from legal tools, such as arms/weaponry deals, training and consulting, the Russian side also relies on illegal tools that include private military companies, entities that are de jure prohibited in Russia, and have been (since 2014) involved in conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. This paper argues that, despite their image of strength and efficiency gained in Ukraine and partly in Syria, their use will have limited strategic effect in sub-Saharan Africa and is unlikely to yield sustainable long-term benefits for Russia.
Sergey Sukhankin is a Research Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation and an Advisor to Gulf State Analytics (Washington DC).