Russia’s influence in Africa reaching dangerous’ levels and West must act, experts warn

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun7,2024

Russia’s influence in Libya and Africa will soon reach “dangerous levels” unless the West acts more decisively, experts warned last night.

Moscow’s footprint in Libya has allowed its war machine to reap £5bn in oil sales since 2022, while its presence in other African states gives it billions more in plundered mineral resources.

Crucially Russia’s military presence – including potential control of a Mediterranean port just 700 nautical miles from Sicily – gives Moscow influence in a resource -rich continent and the power to apply pressure in Nato’s southern flank.

There are almost 2,000 Wagner operatives in Libya today, as well as 15 Russian pilots, 35 technical experts and 80 administrative staff.

They were joined recently by a further contingent of 1,500 regular Russian troops , in a sign that Moscow is no longer attempting to work in the shadows.

Wagner Africa was transformed into a Russian “Expeditionary Corps” following the failed coup by its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin – who subsequently died in mysterious circumstances – and is now directly controlled by the GRU military intelligence agency.

Profits of its legal and illegal operations in Africa allow Moscow to more than cover operational costs, including the £20m a month salary for soldiers in Libya.

Those armed mercenaries allowed warlord and Gaddafi protege General Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar to attempt a military coup in 2022 and permanently divide the country.

In return, Libya acts as a linchpin to Russian operations elsewhere in Africa , where it provides autocracies with a so-called “regime survival package” – offering security in return for unfettered access to mineral resources such as as gold, diamonds, uranium, cobalt, nickel, chromium.

Russia has made more than £2.5bn in blood gold since 2022, and a £1bn diamond mine in the Central African Republic nets more than £300m a year,

Last week 100 Russian “advisors” loaded with military equipment were welcomed to Niger, which boasts some of the largest uranium reserves in the world, and from which Washington DC said it will withdraw 1,000 US troops in the near future.

“I don’t think the scope of the problem is is properly understood in the UK,“ said regional expert Alia Brahimi, of the Atlantic council think tank.

“In Libya they are buying Russian fuel which the EU has sanctioned, and re-exporting it.

“In 2021 the Libya Government spent £5bn importing fuel – in line with what’s needed to meet domestic needs.

“In 2023 the Libyan National Oil Company spent £17bn to supposedly meet the same local needs. We know where the missing money is going.

“This shows you how organised and systemic this Russian influence is. “

She added: “Washington DC has spent the past two years trying to give Haftar a bear hug and bring him on side. That strategy has clearly failed and the West can no longer afford to ignore what’s going on.“

Libya expert Jalel Harchaoui, of the Rusi think tank, said:: ”Russia’s aim is to gain influence in a continent where the demographic is growing and which has rich mineral deposits. That it provides financial returns is welcome, too.

“Putin has been taking about boosting Russia’s presence in the Mediterranean since 1999, before he was President. He wants the ability to hurt Nato and the port of Tobruk , which is essential deliveries of Russian equipment and troops from Syria, is on Nato’s southern border.”

While both Washington DC and the UK have shown they are aware of the problem, the response has been “timid and tiny, moving at a glacial pace at best”, he said, adding: ’The US is acquiring military bases in northwest Libya, but this will be too little too late.

Citing two attacks on Russian planes in Libyan airfields in June and December 2023, he said: “It is believed that these were CIA operations.

“If they can do to twice a year, they can do it twice month, but there is a dearth of political will. “

“The thinking is that Russia must be beaten In Ukraine, and that all else will follow. It is tragically flawed. “

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “Russia’s influence in Africa reaching dangerous’ levels and West must act, experts warn”
  1. It’s alarming to see how Russia is expanding its influence in Africa. The West needs to step up and take decisive action before it reaches dangerous levels. Moscow’s presence, especially in Libya, is concerning. We can’t ignore the potential risks and threats that come with this growing power play.

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