In the decades leading up to the First World War, a historical event known as the “Scramble For Africa” took place in which the European imperial powers- the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland and to a lesser extent Portugal, Spain, and Denmark -attempted to acquire large amounts of resources to build up their societies in preparation for war. Most of this took place in Africa, but it also happened in South America and various island colonial holdings across the world. The tremendous untapped and poorly managed resources of Africa combined with the ease of access and processing facilitated this scramble, and it eventually culminated in the First World War.
It has also been noted that at the same time there has been interest in Africa, the “former” imperial powers of Europe are also seeking to get their Empires back. The UK, France, Holland, Germany, and Russia all alike have alluded to re-asserting themselves on a global scale and have made geopolitical moves that suggest this is their intentions. Shoebat.com has discussed this in great detail as regards the 2009 warning of former European Commission member Bernard Connolly in which he outright stated that the nations of Western Europe are seeking to revitalize themselves by a return to colonialism and using global crises, either by accidental happening or through creating them in order to realize this. Since Africa was the home of many of these colonies as well as a source of material or a place in which the great world powers fought, it is only natural that Africa would come into their focus.
Russia is not a nation that has ever seriously invested into Africa, simply because while she does possess holdings there, most of her resources come from her holdings in Siberia. In that sense, Siberia is a “Russian colony” along with Central Asia because the majority of persons in many regions are not “Slavic Russians,” but are persons of Turkic or Persian stock, and they are effectively ruled by Russia for the fact that their regions contain tremendous amounts of natural resources. Russia frequently boasts about her ability to function in an almost completely autarchal sense because her massive real estate holdings or her influence in Central Asia provide her with access to practically all of the same minerals and materials found throughout most of the world. Russia’s problem, as it is well-known, is an issue of massive government corruption where the oligarchs who control the nation do not use their wealth to benefit their people, but generally to enrich themselves even if it comes at a cost of inhibiting progress or the generation of further wealth for themselves in the future, preferring to take now instead of take more later, as the latter is usually preferred in the Western world.
However, it is well-known the Russia has been involved in Africa. According to the Journal of African Studies in a journal entry from 1979, Russian involvement in Africa, which was taking place back then, is based on something called the “maximum-minimum” principle, as Russia believes she can provide the greatest harm to American and Western interests with minimum damage to her interests. Russian involvement in Africa is not so much about resources, and like the Chinese it certainly is not about helping the Africans, but about attempting to meddle in US affairs.
It is with great interest then that at the Valdai Club, Russia’s equivalent to the US “Aspen Summit”, that Russia now wants to “invest” in Africa.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the history of cooperation between Russia and Africa is more than a decade old; It has deep historical roots. The large-scale, multifaceted nature of these relations formed in the days of the Soviet Union.
Thanks to the USSR, many African states gained independence. The Soviet Union maintained close ties with many African states, and had agreements on economic and technical cooperation with 37 countries there.
One of the main areas of cooperation was the provision of economic and technical assistance to African countries, as well as the creation of the oil and gas and energy sectors.
The largest Soviet projects south of the Sahara were implemented in Angola, Guinea, the Republic of Congo, Mali and Nigeria. With the support of the USSR, about 30 power stations with a total capacity of 2.9 million kW were built in Africa.
Cooperation in the field of education played a big role. Thousands and thousands of African specialists received excellent educations in the USSR and Russia. Many of these graduates have become prominent figures in politics, economics and public life.
Currently, more than 18,000 foreign students are studying in Russia (in China, the figure is about 75,000, and France has 65,000).
Together we will solve the problem of attracting African youth to study in Russia more actively.
That’s right – through youth, through students and graduates – Russia can and should return to Africa, find new friends there, create international teams. For those Africans who graduated from Soviet and Russian universities, Russia will never be a stranger, and Russian initiatives will always be a priority.
So what should Russia’s strategy be in Africa today?
Of course, Russia, as before, must rely on the younger generation of Africa. First, it is necessary to invest in youth projects, in education and in science. Yes, Russia has friends in Africa. But even more friends will appear if we develop international educational cooperation, continue to train specialists for the African continent, and strengthen ties with graduates from Soviet and Russian universities in African countries.
Second, I would like to propose the creation of a separate investment fund under the auspices of Russia to support various sectors of the African economy.
Third, we must not forget about the role of social projects in mass perception, in promoting the brand of Russia. It is necessary to finance social initiatives in Africa and thereby draw attention to partnership with Russia. (source)
The entire entry is worth reading, but it should be recalled that not a single thing said here is something new as far as Russian policy is concerned. Major industrial projects, “investment funds”, and inviting foreign students to Russia at low costs have nothing to do with benefiting the African people, no differently than what the Americans do in their own particular context, or the British, French, Chinese, or many other nations.
In the Russian context, it is about attempting to apply a Soviet-era strategy in the 21st century to try to realize the same results again, for as noted above and as it has been discussed before, Russia and her talk of a “fourth political option” is not something innovative or difficult to understand, but it is a revival of the Soviet Union but by contemporary means.
Russia can build all of the churches that she wants, for just like the mosques that Saudi Arabia builds around the world, both building are empty. The exception is, however, that in Russia, the mosques are full as the mass migration of Central Asian peoples, encouraged by the Russian government for the same reasons that the “refugee crisis” was manufactured in Germany, has brought about a revival of Islam to all major Russian cities. Meanwhile, the practice of Christianity at large continues to dwindle, families continue to suffer gravely, the Total Fertility Rate continues to decline to levels far below replacement rates, drug use and HIV rates are increasing greatly, and the government in having difficultly keeping the nation together, which is why Soviet-era strongarm techniques are being used more frequently against the general public again. The people who are doing the best, objectively speaking, are the Muslim peoples, for they are the least affected by the negative changes, are generally the largest bloc who believe in God, and are generally at the receiving end of racist violence instead of being the source of said problems.
But a major question that one must ask is, can Russia continue as she did last century?
Much of Russia’s success in being able to expand and hold her lands came from here people, as people in any society are the greatest resource. From the 19th century up to the October Revolution, the TFR in Russia averaged between 6 to 7 children per woman. For comparison, there are the TFR rates found only in the highest-levels in the world, and only in sub-Saharan African nations. There was a slight drop until the Holodomor and Stalin Purges of 1933, after which a small recovery took place, only to be completely undermined by the massacres of World War II. After 1945, her fertility rates never recovered. There was a brief peak in 1949 at 3.21 followed by a persistent decline since then. Russia crossed the replacement rate of 2.1 in 1966 and in spite of brief increases in 1983, 1986, 1987, and 1988 at 2.11, 2.18, 2.22, and 2.13, she has continued to decline to now 1.58 followed by a recent temporary high of 1.78 in 2015.
Russia has a lot of land, and while she speaks frequently of her friendship with China, it is because she hates the Chinese and does not trust them, as she believes China may try to steal Siberia from her, and China has already made small, indirect suggestions with this at inquiries about Siberia as well as moves toward Central Asia, both of which Russia has strongly pushed back on.
Russia already has most of what she needs. The problem she has, is will she be able to keep it and keep it together instead of being ripped apart, as she is already in decline in all respects and the threat of domestic revolution is so great that even small changes could eventually break up Russia into a series of warring states?
Likewise, consider that Russia entering into Africa may not entirely be because of the Western world. Remember that the Chinese are also invested into Africa, and given Russia’s mistrust of China and her embrace of the “maximum-minimum” idea, Africa would also be an ideal place to obstruct Chinese military development and possible developments that Russia could view as threatening while giving the appearance that it is the western powers who are doing this.
Russia returning to Africa is a major sign that the “Scramble for Africa has returned, and as the Carnegie Institute has recently described it, that Russia is “late to the party“, as the US is thoroughly aware of what is happening. Russia is not there to scramble for resources and absolutely not to help the Africans in any way that is for their objective benefit without at least Russia acquiring more benefits for herself, but rather to set booby traps for the West and China as she scrambles at home to organize her decaying nation into economic and military preparedness because war is coming and there is no way that she will be able to avoid it.