Isaias Afwerki, the president of Eritrea, has arrived in Moscow on a four-day state visit to Russia at President Vladimir Putin’s request. According to information minister Yemane Meskel’s tweets, the trip also includes the foreign and culture ministries.
As one of the few nations to have voted against UN resolutions denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Eritrea and Russia have close ties. President Afwerki has ruled Eritrea since it gained it’s independence from neighboring Ethiopia in 1993.
It is a one-party state with a heavily militarized culture that is located in the Horn of Africa and has never hosted a presidential election.
Moscow has been keen to re-establish its old Soviet ties with Africa. It has made several military cooperation deals. Russian paramilitary firm, the Wagner group, has deployed in several African countries.
Last week ,Russia offered to supply Somalia’s army with military equipment to aid in the country’s fight against terrorism, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Furthermore, in January last year, Russia established a naval base in the Somali port of Berbera, which contributes to the broader strategy of establishing a more significant footprint in the region. The base is also positioned to secure Russia’s interests in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Horn of Africa.
The move to supply Somalia’s army with military equipment will further strengthen Russia’s position in the region, giving it access to a new partner in the fight against terrorism. The pledge also highlights the significance of Somalia’s strategic location for Russia, which sees it as an essential gateway to the markets of the Gulf. The cooperation opportunities in energy and mineral extraction are also critical for Russia’s economic interests in the region.
Mr Lavrov also touched down in Nairobi on Monday morning for a series of meetings with head of state Me William Ruto and other local leaders .Last month, Russia said it was sending 200,000 tonnes of fertiliser to Kenya. On Africa Day, May 25, the Russian government said it had sent a donation of fortified oil worth $1 million to be distributed to those facing hunger in Kenya.
The offer comes as Russia seeks to expand its influence in Africa, upstaging the West in countries facing conflict. Russian mercenaries Wagner are currently present in the Central African Republic, Mali, Mozambique, and Libya.
Moscow has also been campaigning against sanctions imposed by the West, arguing they are blocking the supply of needed wheat to Africa. But wheat is also what Ukraine is sending. This week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was completing his Africa trip, presenting his country’s ten-point agenda for peace. It includes issues like global food security, radiation and nuclear safety, energy security and the release of all prisoners and deportees.
The influence of Russia in Africa was highlighted when 17 of the 35 countries that abstained from a United Nations vote condemning the invasion of Ukraine were African