Russia Might "Pivot To Africa" With "Mercenaries"

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,

The upcoming draft proposal to legalize private military companies (PMCs, a.k.a. “mercenaries”) in Russia could give the country a competitive edge over its rivals by helping it carve out a valuable and much-demanded niche as a reliable security provider, thus enabling it to later leverage its strategic advantage to reap energy, mineral, economic, and other “rewards” in incentivizing the Kremlin to undertake a full-on “Pivot to Africa”.

RT reported that Russian parliamentarians are going to submit a draft proposal in the coming weeks to legalize the “mercenary” industry, which is officially referred to as “private military companies” (PMCs), with the outlet arguing that this step is long overdue and would simply amount to Russia keeping pace with other Great Powers. That said, it’s bound to generate considerable international attention if it passes owing to the Mainstream Media’s War on Russia, with conspiratorial accusations likely emerging in its wake in an attempt to pin the blame for all levels of global unrest from Afghanistan to Africa on the shoulders of Russian “mercenaries”. Accepting that there will likely be a flood of negative and mostly inaccurate reporting surrounding this topic, it’s much more worthwhile to concentrate on the “positive” aspects of what the legislative proposal could entail in the long term for Russia’s grand strategy.

Making Sense Of Mercenaries

The first thing that needs to be done is for the reader to abandon what might be their preexisting moral aversion to “mercenaries” and recognize that this element of “plausibly deniable” force projection by states is now part and parcel of today’s world, for better or for worse. The PMC industry has long been used by governments to indirectly exert influence in “sensitive” regions or contexts, relying on the fact that it’s ultimately a “private” company doing the work in order to eschew responsibility for the fighters’ actions if something “goes wrong”, like what infamously occurred with Blackwater in 2007 during the American occupation of Iraq. In addition, governments don’t have an obligation to publicly report on PMC casualties, so contracting their services means that they can keep the “official” casualty count low in order to avoid inciting public opposition to the given operation at home. That, however, is only relevant insofar as the respective campaign is common knowledge, which sometimes isn’t the case.

Other than amplifying the combat capabilities of openly deployed military forces in a conflict theater, PMCs also serve a very valuable role in having the said armed forces indirectly partake in missions abroad that haven’t been officially declared, whether through the media or even to the country’s own citizens per whatever its legal procedures may be. This “work flow” is possible because many “mercenaries” are former members of the state’s military, some of whom still retain contact with this body and could conceivably coordinate with it, as has often been suspected is the case. Not only that, but former intelligence agents and other “deep state” operatives are sometimes employed in this industry as well, thus making it an unofficial extension of a country’s power apparatus if “properly” applied. Taken together, the abovementioned two main qualities of PMCs make them desirable assets for all Great Powers, which explains why Russia is finally stepping up to the plate to wield this tool of national power.

The African Angle

There had previously been reports of Russian “mercenaries” in Syria even before the country officially began its 2015 anti-terrorist intervention there, and similar claims have recently popped up in Bosnia and might even be outright invented for Afghanistan in the future in order to concoct a “politically convenient” fake news narrative there, but the most pertinent of which to focus on in the course of this article is what Stratfor recently said about the African angle of this topic. The private intelligence firm alleged that the Kremlin dispatched the “Wagner Group” to Sudan and the Central African Republic, and while this assertion can’t be independently verified, it would indeed have a certain logic to it, especially in light of Russia’s latest strategic interactions with these countries.

To brief readers who might not have been keeping an eye on Russian-African relations, Russia was invited by Sudan to establish a military base on the Red Sea, and the country also successfully lobbied the UNSC to partially lift its arms embargo on the Central African Republic so as to facilitate Moscow’s arms transfers to this war-torn country. The author wrote about both of these developments last month in two articles titled “Here’s Why Russia Might Set Up A Red Sea Base In Sudan” and “Why Does Russia Want To Sell Arms To The Central African Republic?”, which can concisely be summarized as Russia’s desire to establish a strategic presence in the indispensable country along China’s African Silk Road and to lay the security groundwork for later “balancing” continental affairs through future involvement in various peace processes, respectively.

Having these objectives in mind, it makes perfect sense why Russia might have actually dispatched “mercenaries” to those two African states in order to assist with those missions, but considering that PMCs might soon be legalized, regulated, and possibly even promoted within Russia, it’s very likely that this is just the first step in a larger “Pivot to Africa” that will be unfolding in the coming years, and one which desires much more tangible dividends than those already mentioned.

Reaping The “Rewards”

Russian servicemen did an astounding job defeating Daesh in Syria, and their newfound global renown could understandably make them highly sought-after “mercenary” assets all across the world, and especially in the conflict-strewn and volatile regions of resource-rich Africa. While establishing a strategic presence in part of the continent and playing a role in conflict resolution processes are both very important, they don’t in and of themselves bring any physical “rewards” for Russia, which is why this multipolar Great Power will probably also leverage its PMC appeal for more “earthly” gains, perhaps quite literally.

In particular, Russia might reach an agreement with its trusted Chinese global partner to protect the Silk Roads – especially those in Africa – in exchange for lucrative commercial contracts along it, which could in many cases result in energy or mining deals that eventually lead to a further and more robust Russian presence in the continent. Moscow, after all, would be fulfilling a vital function for Beijing by “informally” flexing its military muscles in the most Hybrid War-prone part of the world. It might sound condescending that Russia would work through China in clinching African deals instead of the host states themselves, but it’s already the case that Beijing controls a sizeable amount of the continent’s extractive industries and is therefore the most logical actor for Moscow to engage with on this front.

Even so, Russia doesn’t want to be China’s “junior partner” in Africa forever, especially since it’s prospectively slated to assume a disproportionately important role in protecting its global paradigm-changing New Silk Road assets, which is why Moscow will probably roll out a comprehensive “mercenary”-led policy there in the near future following the expected legalization of the PMC industry. To explain, Russia is regarded as the most “neutral” Great Power interested in Africa, and to that end its “mercenary” services would already be in high demand in principle, not even accounting for the battle-tested value that its former servicemen could provide to any client.

Coupled with Russia’s toolkit of “military” and “balancing” diplomacy, PMCs could transport, guard, and possibly even employ Russian weaponry provided to conflict-plagued states in order to help their governments shape the battlefield situation to the point where international-(and Russian-) mediated political solutions can be considered, possibly even including the implementation of “Identity Federalism”. So long as Moscow takes the lead with each of these moves or is involved to an important extent, then Russia could quickly play the part of “Africa’s Guardian” in helping to safeguard peace and security there more reliably than any other country.

The ultimate “reward” for this service would be for the host governments themselves to favor Russian companies over Chinese ones in the dispensation of future contracts regardless of the sphere that they’re in, with an eye on eventually making Moscow one of their strategic partners in order to counterbalance any real or imagined fears of being “dominated” by Beijing. This win-win outcome would see Russia and China entering into a “friendly” and complementary multipolar competition with one another in Africa that would work out to every party’s benefit by diversifying their relationships and solidifying stability in the continent.

Concluding Thoughts

Russia is in the midst of a global Great Power resurgence that’s seeing it exert its influential reach into all corners of the world, which naturally includes Africa as well. However, it’s this continent where Russia’s sway is weakest following the strategic retreat that Moscow undertook in the last days of the Soviet era, and from which it has yet to fully recover. In the two and a half decades since, Russia has lagged far behind all of its competitors in Africa, meaning that the only hope for it to catch up is to unveil a totally new and ambitious vision that satisfies a valuable demand and can subsequently be leveraged for tangible “rewards”, hence the policy of using “mercenaries” to stabilize the situation in many resource-rich states and create the conditions for Russia to reap favorable contracts afterwards.

Unlike its American, French, or British counterparts, the Russian military and its PMC offshoots aren’t regarded as having any regional political interests that would “warrant” them partaking in destabilizing measures; to the contrary, Russia’s continental interests are entirely in securing Africa’s stabilization and therefore facilitating commercial, extractive, and public works contracts for its companies. This latter realpolitik motivation is much like China’s, though with the notable exception being that Beijing is unable to provide the level of indirect “mercenary” security assistance that Moscow can, thus increasing Russia’s appeal. On top of that, Russia already has extensive diplomatic experience in promoting a “fair” and “compromised” settlement to the War on Syria, something which sets it apart from all other Great Powers and adds value to its participation in resolving the continent’s crises.

African states are aware that their loyalty and resources are being contested by the West (mostly the US and France in this context) and China, and they’re eager to find a viable third partner in order to “balance” between the two and hopefully obtain the best benefits from each of them. India and Japan, which are teaming up to construct the “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” (also known as the “Freedom Corridor”), can’t offer the hard infrastructure projects that China can and are mostly marketing their soft infrastructural development strategies (healthcare, schools, job training, etc.), which doesn’t differentiate them much from the competition and therefore disqualifies them as substantial “third partners”. Turkey, while having its own unique attractiveness primarily in its “Islamic Democracy” governing model and sizeable economic investments, doesn’t have any relevant security experience in Africa apart from Somalia and lacks the leading conflict resolution capacities that Russia has.

All of this leads to the conclusion that Russia is far better suited to play the role of African countries’ third “balancing” partner than any other state, and that these governments’ embrace of Moscow could actually come to embody a 21st-century iteration of the “Non-Aligned Movement” in their continent’s New Cold War context. Instead of being firmly in the Western or Chinese ‘camps’, these states could straddle the two by reaching out to Russia and having the unparalleled security and diplomatic assistance that it can offer to them aid in striking a manageable “middle ground”.

This is even more poignant of a point when it comes to conflict-wreaked or Hybrid War-prone countries such as Sudan, the Central African Republic, and many others, as they more so than any of their African peers desperately need the security and diplomatic services that only Russia can provide, and Russia of course needs their partnership as the first step to comprehensively commencing its “Pivot to Africa”.


PT BennyBoy Fri, 01/19/2018 - 10:45 Permalink

Old Dilbert cartoon (Tried digging it up but I couldn't find a link within five minutes):

How to look like a management genius.  (One of the methods)
Centralize everything that is decentralized.  (I can't remember the excuse.  Remove redundancies?)
Decentralize everything that is centralized.  (I can't remember the excuse.  Remove bottlenecks?)

Govt Army = Centralized
Mercenaries = Decentralized.

The old employees Vs contractors arguments.

Now the trend is taking off in earnest, I guess you could give it a few years and the world will split back to Anarchy.  All you need is enough different mercenary groups, some of them deciding they can get a better deal by bypassing their paymasters for one reason or another.

There's also that psychological effect of "official" govt forces vs "any old contractor.  Why do I have to be subservient to them?  They didn't swear any oath of loyalty to me" type thinking.  Time will tell, I guess.

In reply to by BennyBoy

Blankone shitshitshit Fri, 01/19/2018 - 10:51 Permalink

I guess you have not been paying attention. Nor has the author who wrote - "Russian servicemen did an astounding job defeating Daesh in Syria, and their newfound global renown"

Reality - the various Kurds which includes the SDF have come forth and occupied Syria towns and territory. They are the enemy of Damascus and are aligned with and supported by the US. The ISIS guys are being rebranded and reuniformed as "coalition forces" and where they have been they are openly supported by US air power. Months ago the US already had 11 bases IN Syria, the US has now stated they are there to stay and so are the bases. And the number of bases is increasing and the existing ones are expanding. Russia on the other hand is being pushed back to their bases on the west coast. And now Turkey is about to come in and take Syria's northern area. Looking at the current situation of Syria, this is not success. Now, if Putin had found the strength to declare a no-fly zone from the very beginning and kept the US out there Would have been success and only a fraction of the destruction.

In reply to by shitshitshit

otschelnik Fri, 01/19/2018 - 02:07 Permalink

Russians already had a mercenary army for hot operations in Syria, the CVK "Wagner" division, based at the GRU special forces base 51532 in Molkino, Krasnodar region. 

Next up may indeed be Africa. 

giovanni_f TBT or not TBT Fri, 01/19/2018 - 02:55 Permalink

Partly correct. Yes, Libya has been successfully reduced to a shithole and serves now as both, a departure platform for young males from Sub-Saharian countries as well as a playground for wannabe-khalifat-founders.

But there is still a bunch of countries with a bit too much of independece and stability such as Tanzania, Sambia, Namibia, e.g. Let's see what our globalists over at the various Soros NGO's can do to get that racial and religious hatred game going. You know, that good old nation-building ultraviolence which made Ukraine such a great place.

In reply to by TBT or not TBT

MK ULTRA Alpha firefightergr Fri, 01/19/2018 - 03:24 Permalink

The Russians have always used state sponsored mercenaries in Africa. The Soviet Russians conducted a massive operation from the 60's through the 80's using Cubans, East Germans and other Warsaw pact forces. Cuba was a major proxy during this period.

The Chinese are deeply embedded in Africa, however, Chinese penetration is commercial compared to the former Russian history of directing proxies in wars across Africa. Both the US and Russia played out the Cold War in Africa for the vast storehouse of minerals. After the end of the Cold War, China replaced both the US and Russia, now both the US and Russia have Africa in play. 

The base in Sudan? good, the Russians can fight the pirates and Muslim extremist. Russia had bases on the horn of Africa in the Cold War era, nothing new, it was Somalia, and the base had an exceptionally long runway. Sudan with an eye on history, would welcome the Russians, not just for the benefit of Russian arms and advisors, but also protection from Egypt. Lately, Egypt and Sudan have been on the edge of war.

In reply to by firefightergr

MK ULTRA Alpha MK ULTRA Alpha Fri, 01/19/2018 - 04:24 Permalink

Added note of interest; US secret army Africa - over 50,000 African Americans have moved to Africa from the US. These people were born in the US, multi-generational African Americans, now living and working in many African countries. In many major African cities, the new elite are the highly educated African Americans. It is a reverse invasion, the US is taking over the most wealthy African countries with infiltrators from the US. And they blend in because this is where they came from. 

If this trend continues, then I predict greater economic ties with wealthy African nations as more African Americans continue to migrate back to their homelands. And the added benefit of a trader/educator class gaining wealth and a foot hold in Africa.

This driver is a major reason for greater US military coverage of the regions in which Americans are setting up shop.



In reply to by MK ULTRA Alpha

DuneCreature Fri, 01/19/2018 - 02:10 Permalink

Putin taking plays from the US play book?

Trump should take a few pointers from Vlad dealing with crooks..


!?!~~[- Are We The Wee People Being Played For Chump Monkeys And Losing Again? -]~~!?!

Or is this guy, Mike Horowitz, and the Office of the Inspector General at the DoJ(?) actually going to bring charges against Killary, Comey & Company? ........... I'll believe that when I see it. ... Slippery Jim (The Easy Weasel) and Killary-Baby (eater) in orange jumpsuits, that is.

Crowd Source The Truth & Anon (maybe spin) Doctor Steven? 

This cesspool onion has more layers than I have gray hairs on my ass (Don't ask! ..... Use your imagination! ... You are not getting pictures either, damn it!)

Live Hard, Trump The Swamp Critter Turns Rotor-Rooter Cesspool Pumper & Mucker,.....HA!, Where Is My Razor ? ... I Need To Cut Down Some Of This Brush So I Can Put The Fire Out!.... The Volume Of Lies Coming From Wash DC Burns My Ass!, Die Free

~ DC v8.4


Golden Showers Fri, 01/19/2018 - 02:25 Permalink

So let's just look at Africa for a minute: When the Soviet Socialist Republic collaplsed The CCCP, Somalia went sideways. Not only was American Interests involved in Somalia but Russian Interests. Both pulled out. That left a power vacuum in Somalia and that means some Somaliis made it stateside, including an old boss of mine. Columbus has a huge Somali population. But that's not the point.

What goes around comes around. Ok. Not only does a nation like Somalia have a huge geographic base evidenced by all those pirates, but it's also infected by the muslim virus.

When I look at that sideways handshake of Putin and that "African" I just don't know.

I don't think it's full on Africa or full on Russia.

It's kind of how the Iraqi Kurds shook hands with America in the 90s.

All I read is "AFRICA" AFRICA AFRICA. Really? I honestly don't think that Putin can go to a continent and shake hands sideways with one black ass, what is he? Half Kenyan? and say that Russia and Africa are BBF's. That's a bunch of bullshit.

About all you could ask of Africa is to stay off my back and shut the fuck up. That goes for every no account nation south of Algeria. And it certainly has everything to do with Turkey.

Good. Let it be.

To Hell In A H… Golden Showers Fri, 01/19/2018 - 04:41 Permalink

Oh dear, another fool who hasn't a clue. When you say "All I read is AFRICA AFRICA AFRICA"  I shake my head in disbelief.  You are doing the equivalent of a man in the Sahara saying " why is everybody talking about and concerned with WATER WATER WATER."  Obviously, you haven't heard of the concept Strategic earth metals and

Forget the Mercator map, drawn to give Europe a bigger presence in the world, which you are used to seeing, but instead take out the NASA-GALL PETERS Map and look at the world as it really is. This is the map NASA, the Army, Navy and Airforce use. It is nearer 99% accurate and to scale and the import factor is scale.

Africa is so fucking big, it can fit the whole of the USA, the whole of Europe(not including Russia and Turkey), The whole of India and the whole of China. That is how big Africa is. 

My dad was a geologist and a lot of his work was in Africa. Africa was the epicentre of Pangea, so when the earth was forming and spewed its goodies, it dumped a disproportionate amount of its rare earth metals in what we today call Africa. Do you have any idea which strategic metals we are after, how rare they are and where they can be found? That is why you are reading AFRICA AFRICA AFRICA. We are witnessing the scramble for Africa 2.0

The repercussions if we don't control these metals and other nations do.....

In September 2010, a longstanding territorial dispute between Japan and China turned nasty. A Japanese coastguard vessel caught sight of a Chinese trawler off the coast of the uninhabited, Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The coastguard ordered the trawler to leave. But, within moments of the order, the two boats collided. A second collision followed 40 minutes later, leading the coastguard to seize and arrest the captain of the Chinese ship: in retrospect, not a wise move. China’s response was furious and immediate. The government moved to cut off Japan’s supply of rare earths, a peculiar set of elements located deep in the periodic table, which form the bedrock of much modern technology. Such was Japan’s reliance on these materials that merely days after the export ban, which Beijing maintains it never imposed, Japan relented and the Chinese captain was released. “The strategic importance of rare earths is huge and will only grow,” says Gareth Hatch, founding principal at Technology Metals Research, a provider of market intelligence and analysis on rare earths. More and more elements such as cerium, praseodymium and europium are being used to power and perfect everyday gadgets, from iPhones and headphones to microphones. Even in tiny quantities, they are also used as the driving force behind certain cancer treatments, nuclear reactors and X-rays. “They fulfil a similar role to that of yeast in pizza,” writes David Abraham, author of The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age. “While they are only used in small amounts, they are essential. “Whole industries are built on just a few rare metals,” he adds. “The magic in [Steve] Jobs’ glass screen was due to a dash of the rare metal indium [a minor metal rather than rare earth], which serves as the invisible link, a transparent conductor between the phone and your finger. A dusting of europium and terbium provides brilliant red and green hues on the screen. Cerium buffs the glass smooth to the molecular level.”

Now the penny has dropped and yes African leaders will be bribed and if that doesn't work, undermined, subverted, freedom coups, government overthrows, installed puppets, proxy wars and ultimately direct wars. So be ready for more #shithole countries# and more refugees. The reality is this. If Africa controlled even 40% of its resources and held some back to manipulate the markets, the world would be fucked and I mean fucked and they'd be a lot richer. But we can't have that. Ever! PS: And they are forced to trade these metals in dollars. 

In reply to by Golden Showers

Siberian Fri, 01/19/2018 - 03:24 Permalink

I hope the legalization law will not pass. Any of our politicians who support it will lose me forever. Killing for money is one of most disgusting thing the human kind ever invented.

WTFUD Fri, 01/19/2018 - 04:39 Permalink

As it stands the Council on Foreign Relation (CFR), embedded/entrenched in the old-colonial Master States - fisting/massaging/sharing wealth with select Local Lapdog Content ( Elite Dog-Poo fax Your Spawn to H'england's Finishing Schools/ Military Academies ) , returning gloriously to slip on the Golden Jackboot making sure it's fittingly firmly wedged right up the Populace's Shit-Creek for a further Generation . . . . are losing their Mojo.


BitchesBetterR… Fri, 01/19/2018 - 05:21 Permalink

See- when Russia claimed 2 years ago that she would fully commit to defeat ISIS in Syria & fulfilled that promise, the World realized that Russia truly delivers what was promised in good terms & by mutual agreements. 

Meanwhile the West is so fucking wrecked & desilutional that they barely know what the fuck is good or bad, what makes sense or what is reckless, who's friend and who's foe, & what is the clear direction moving forward. 


Mr Putin OTOH is clever enough to realize that Africa is the "go to" place to set strategic interests for all kinds of energy, rare mineral, commodities & development services that are seeked there to generate venues for prosperity & progress.  China is already there, but without the "military commitment", African countries are seeking a "protector & partner" to repel the "western predators & loothers" 

Rhal Fri, 01/19/2018 - 08:30 Permalink

Don't be surprised if Russians start moving to Africa en mass. It looks like Russian may get buried by ice within a decade.

all caused by global warming of course.