Russia has 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. The offer was made after talks with his Somali counterpart, Abshir Omar Jama, in Moscow.
“Russia reaffirmed its readiness to meet the material needs of the Somalian army in its fight against extremists that remain on Somalian territory including al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda,” Lavrov said in a statement.
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.
Somalia has faced numerous attacks from al-Qaida’s East Africa affiliate group, al-Shabaab, and recently embarked on what has been described as the most significant offensive against the extremist group in more than a decade. The group has held back the nation’s recovery from decades of conflict.
Russia’s game plan in Africa has involved seeking alliances with regimes or juntas shunned by the West or facing insurgencies and internal challenges to their rule. African leaders receive recognition from the Kremlin and military muscle from Wagner. In return, they pay for it by giving Russia prime access to their oil, gas, gold, diamonds, and other valuable minerals.
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. Somalia had voted in favor of the Ukraine resolution but has been working on improving relations with Russia that were severed in 1978 when Moscow backed Ethiopia in a war with Somalia.
The offer of military equipment to Somalia is significant as it highlights Russia’s growing interest in the African continent. It also underscores its willingness to provide military support to countries facing terrorism and extremism, which is in contrast to the West’s approach of providing non-lethal aid.
The offer of military equipment to Somalia is expected to boost the country’s efforts in fighting terrorism and extremism. It also presents an opportunity for Somalia to diversify its sources of military support, which has traditionally come from Western countries.
The move by Russia to offer military equipment to Somalia is likely to raise concerns among Western countries, which have been providing military support to the African nation. However, it remains to be seen whether Somalia will accept the offer and what form the military equipment will take.
Despite the challenges facing Somalia, the country has made significant progress in recent years in its efforts to rebuild and stabilise the nation. The support of the international community, including Russia, will be critical in ensuring that Somalia is able to continue its journey towards peace, stability, and development.