Sunday, January 20, 2019

Greed of Russian Elites, Not Russian National Interests Driving Moscow’s Return to Africa, Zhelenin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 19 – Many analysts are seeking to find some grand geopolitical design in Russia’s deepening involvement in central Africa, Aleksandr Zhelenin says; but the explanation is both simpler and more disturbing: it is the greed of Russian elites rather than Russian national interests that explains what is occurring.

            The Rosbalt commentator points out that “the basic resources in the Russian Federation itself were long ago divided and redistributed between the representatives” of Russia’s major financial concerns. And it as they, the parts of “the corporation” known as “Russia” that have decided Africa could be a new source of wealth (

            And that explains why some members of this “corporation” have been handed over this or that country for exploitation much as was the case with territories in pre-Petrine Muscovy. For Russia as a whole, a few hundred kilos of gold or a few tons of uranium aren’t worth much. “But for an individual ‘big man’” they are not trivial as sources of new funds.

            Zhelenin reaches this conclusion after showing that the Central African Republic is neither economically nor geopolitically important for Russia.  On the one hand, he shows that the resources the CAR has as far as uranium, gold, oil, or diamonds are concerned are too small for Russia as a country to care about but not for individuals.

            All these things are available in larger quantities closer to home, making the investment in the CAR anything but sensible for Russia as a whole.

                And on the other, Zhelenin says, the notion that the CAR can become “an advance post for the advancement of Russia into other African countries” is simply laughable. “Into which ones, if you please? And are they waiting for us?” It is one thing to get involved in the CAR with its five million people and quite another to go into Nigeria with its 200 million or the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 80 million.

            For individual businessmen, such moves are one thing; for a country, quite another. 

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