Russia in Africa

Resurgent Great Power or Bellicose Pretender?

February 2023 9781787387072 320pp
June 2024 9781911723370 320pp
Available as an eBook Available from Oxford Scholarship Online
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Three decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia has transformed from a fringe player to a resurgent great power in Africa. The October 2019 Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi highlighted the appeal of Russia’s normative agenda, the ubiquity of Russian military technology, and the breadth of Moscow’s presence on the continent. Beneath the pageantry, a darker side of Russia’s African resurgence looms large. From Libya to Madagascar, Russia has used sinister tactics to expand its influence, such as private military contractors, shadowy mining and energy deals with authoritarian regimes, and election interference campaigns.

This book presents a chronological examination of Russia’s post-Cold War foreign policy towards Africa, and outlines the factors that have enabled and impeded the growth of its influence. It pays special attention to the non-material factors behind this rising power; the domestic drivers of Russian decision-making; Moscow’s relationships with fellow external powers; and African perspectives on Russia’s geopolitical role. Samuel Ramani’s analysis cites extensively both Russian-language media and academic sources, and his own interviews with Russian and African elites. His fascinating study challenges popular depictions of Russia as an opportunistic anti-Western actor, instead emphasising Moscow’s strategic commitment to Africa and the endurance of historical memory.


‘Ramani’s methodical chronicling of Russian foreign policy in Africa under President Vladimir Putin… [is] impressively researched and dispassionately narrated.’ — Africa Center for Strategic Studies

‘Exceptionally thorough and highly detailed… Ramani’s book offers the most in-depth and extensively researched analysis on Russia’s efforts on the continent of Africa.’ — Diplomatic Courier

‘Perhaps the first modern book-length analysis of Russia’s interests in Africa … a triumph.’ — International Affairs

‘Fascinating.’ — African Business

‘Sets out a comprehensive analysis of Russian Africa policy for the first time’ — Welt-Sichten 

‘An impressive book. The only recent full-length academic study of Russia’s engagement with Africa, it is a worthwhile contribution to the literature.’ — Paul Stronski, Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

‘A comprehensive account of Russian policy towards Africa from the 1990s to the present. Original, detailed and engaging, it is a truly masterful work.’ — Mark N. Katz, Professor of Government and Politics, George Mason University

‘This is the encyclopedic and nuanced go-to guide for everyone interested in Russia’s relations with Africa: from students seeking an introduction to the topic to experts needing a comprehensive reference. Ramani’s language skills and on-the-ground interviews truly set this book apart.’ —  Kimberly Marten, Professor in the Department of Political Science, Columbia University, and author of Weapons, Culture, and Self-interest: Soviet Defense Managers in the New Russia


Samuel Ramani is Associate Fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute. The author of Russia in AfricaPutin’s War on Ukraine; and Rudderless Superpower (all published by Hurst), Samuel regularly advises the U.S. and UK governments on international security issues, and contributes to Foreign Policy, CNN and the BBC.

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