Russia in Africa: Who’s courting whom?

Image: Getty, Mikhail Svetlov
Image: Getty, Mikhail Svetlov

SAIIA is pleased to invite you to a webinar previewing the upcoming special issue of the 𝘚𝘰𝘢𝘡𝘩 𝘈𝘧𝘳π˜ͺ𝘀𝘒𝘯 π˜‘π˜°π˜Άπ˜³π˜―π˜’π˜­ 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘐𝘯𝘡𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘒𝘡π˜ͺ𝘰𝘯𝘒𝘭 𝘈𝘧𝘧𝘒π˜ͺ𝘳𝘴 (π˜šπ˜ˆπ˜‘π˜π˜ˆ) entitled β€˜Russia in Africa: Who’s courting Whom?’

The special issue will explore salient themes in Africa’s relationship with Russia, from several perspectives and in the context of geopolitical developments at this point in global affairs. Participants are invited to engage with the work of various special issue authors, as well as guest editors Steven Gruzd, Cayley Clifford and Samuel Ramani.

The African continent has a long history of ties with Russia. The Soviet Union supported anti-colonial movements in a number of African countries, offering training and funding to independence movements and facilitating academic exchange programmes for young people across the continent. However, following the collapse of the USSR, and preoccupied with domestic challenges, Russian involvement significantly declined in Africa during the 1990s and early 2000s. As Russia’s economic conditions improved, and as its geopolitical role was bolstered by a more aggressive foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin, Russian involvement on the African continent has revived.

While there is growing research and literature on Africa-Russia relations in the post-Cold War era, not many studies have included an African or Global South(ern) perspective, leading to a partial understanding of the extent to which Russia’s foreign policy impacts Africa and vice versa. Such research is crucial for comparative academic studies of external actors in Africa, as well as for policy makers and analysts attempting to understand Russian actions vis-Γ -vis the continent.


  • Dr Martha Bridgman, Editor SAJIA.
  • Mr Steven Gruzd, Head, African Governance and Diplomacy Programme, SAIIA, and guest editor of the special issue.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr Allard Duursma and Dr Niklas Masuhr, senior researchers at the Centre for Security Studies, ETH Zurich, and special issue authors, on β€˜Russia’s return to Africa in a historical and global context: Anti-imperialism, patronage, and opportunism’.
  • Prof Bhaso Ndzendze, Head of Department for Politics and IR at the University of Johannesburg, speaking on his co-authored article entitled: A differentiated courtship? A regime-type analysis of Russia’s African (arms) trade, 2012-2019.


  • Dr Samuel Ramani, tutor of politics and IR at the University of Oxford and RUSI Associate Fellow and guest editor.
  • Ms Cayley Clifford, deputy chief editor at Africa Check and guest editor of the special issue.

Related material


Watch the webinar on YouTube:

17 Nov 2022