After a decade of neglect following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia re-entered Africa to join what had become known as the “new scramble for Africa”. Forewarned by President Vladimir Putin’s penchant for revisionist adventurism, the West regarded this move as a major foreign policy event. And given the present state of relations, it does not welcome any foreign policy success on the part of the Kremlin, regarding it as a threat to its own interests; a failure to contain the Russian bear. On the one hand, this may come across as a clear case of over-reaction. The competition Russia faces in Africa is formidable, involving players such as the US, the EU, China, the UK, France and Germany, India, Turkey and Japan and lagging far behind most of them in terms of trade, investment, development aid and cultural recognition. Russia concentrates only on a dozen or so African states out of a total of 54. In comparison to the main players in the stampede, it is still a minnow. In just...

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