Washington is preparing to expose and contain what it sees as “malign Russian activities” in Africa’s oil, gas and mining sectors in which individuals and entities connected with Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to be playing an increasingly big role.
If it is signed into law, a new bill passed by the US senate would give congress the power to track malign Russian investments, suspected illicit financial flows and military operations in Africa.
Several Russian entities and individuals operating in Africa’s natural resource sector have already been sanctioned and additional powers may result in yet more sanctions being imposed by Washington, and probably mirrored by its allies.
The Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act says Washington will “hold accountable the Russian Federation and African governments and their officials who are complicit in aiding such malign influence and activities.”
The bill specifically contemplates the identification of African governments and government officials, Russian government officials, and other individuals and entities that have facilitated payments.
Heightened scrutiny can also be expected of Kremlin-connected private military activities protecting Russian interests in Africa, other security cooperation agreements and information and communications technology linkages.
Body of evidence
The increasing influence in Africa’s natural resource sector of individuals and entities closely connected with Putin is well documented in several studies. One of the most comprehensive is a report by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Security, Soft Power, and Regime Support: Spheres of Russian Influence in Africa.
Published in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it provides several examples of Moscow’s penetration of the sector. These include the activities of Lobaye Invest in gold and diamond mining in the Central African Republic; Rosneft’s oil and gas operations in Nigeria and Alrosa’s extensive African diamond interests.
Washington has already imposed sanctions on these entities and individuals associated with them, but increased scrutiny of Russian interests in Africa may lead to more designations.
The Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act passed through the US senate with a vote of 415 in favour and nine against but has not yet been signed into law.
The Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act can be found here.
The report by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Security, Soft Power, and Regime Support: Spheres of Russian Influence in Africa, can be found here.
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