Lavrov and Macron vying for Africa's favour

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has visited Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo on his tour of Africa, spreading the view that the West is to blame for the food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile Emmanuel Macron is travelling to Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau to renew "relations between France and the African continent". Which of them has the competitive edge?

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Kommersant (RU) /

Cold-war style strategising

The current tug-of-war over zones of influence feels all too familiar to Kommersant:

“Not long ago it seemed as if the days of global wrestling between the two superpowers were a thing of the past. Every morning the foreign department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would stare at a colourful political map of Africa in which the countries were marked either as 'socialist-oriented' or under the Western zone of influence. They looked at the map and discussed who to invite and who to give money to, who to build something for or supply with military aid in order to stop the spread of 'neo-colonialism' and 'neo-imperialism'. ... The scramble for Africa within the framework of Cold War 2.0 is now becoming the new reality.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Africa no longer willing to be instrumentalised

The African states are no longer prepared to side with the great powers, explains Togo's Foreign Minister Robert Dussey in a guest article for Le Temps:

“[The great powers] mostly try to convince the Africans to adopt their 'narrative' so that they support one side against the other, in line with a utilitarian diplomatic logic. When it comes to voting for a resolution in the UN Security Council we are actively courted by both sides and even put under pressure by some partners. Such attitudes and practices hail from another age. Africa has since become aware of its own responsibility. It is increasingly able to speak with its own united voice.” (UA) /

The facts refute the Kremlin's propaganda

Journalist Vitali Portnikov on suspects that the African representatives Lavrov is meeting with will soon realise that Russia is not being sincere:

“One wonders how Sergey Lavrov intends to convince his African interlocutors that they are not facing a famine because of Russia when the day before his visit, after having just signed the agreements on the release of Ukrainian grain deliveries in Istanbul, Russian forces attacked the port of Odessa, and Moscow [initially] even refused to admit its involvement in this crime.”

Iswestija (RU) /

Western colonial past plays into Moscow's hands

Izvetia sees Russia on a winning streak in Africa:

“The Soviet anti-colonial background is lending clout to Russian anti-Western rhetoric. ... The former colonial powers are clearly jittery, particularly the French. Back when Paris still controlled the lion's share of the continent, Russia was not even visible on the horizon. Now Russia has 'buried its way in', displacing the Europeans in the Central African Republic, in Mali and in other Francophone countries on the continent inch by inch. If Russia was previously held back by its efforts not to strain relations with the Elysée Palace, now there are no restraints on Moscow's activities in Africa.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Lavrov's crumbs

The West is lagging behind Moscow, La Repubblica complains:

“Lavrov has really hit the jackpot with his Africa campaign. Twenty-five African countries abstained from voting on the UN resolution to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. ... The reaction from the 'collective West' is too little too late. Macron is in Africa, the US Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, is travelling to Egypt and Ethiopia. The risk is that they will have to content themselves with the crumbs from Lavrov's promised grain deliveries. The echoes of Russian missiles striking the grain depots of Odessa immediately after the agreement was signed in Istanbul did not reach Africa.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Only Paris's interest is sincere

France will emerge as the most reliable partner in the long run, Le Figaro predicts:

“Other powers like China, Russia and Turkey are also interested in Africa. And they are only too happy to oust the French. But beneath the altruistic veneer they will have a hard time hiding their real interests. The Africans will see through their game eventually. ... France is the only power that is genuinely interested in Africa's successful development. ... It is, after all, in France's own interest. We have understood that if Africa's agricultural and urban policy fails, this will send millions of migrants in the direction of the Mediterranean.”