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Monday, April 22, 2024

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US Secretary Of State, Blinken Kicks Off Africa Tour To Counter Russian Influence

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US Secretary of State Blinken’s second trip to Africa is to “develop a strategy with African partners to counter Russian efforts to undermine democracy” on the continent. Antony Blinken arrives in South Africa on Sunday to kick off a three-country tour that will also take him to DR Congo and Rwanda.

“It’s like a new Cold War is playing out in Africa,”  said several observers. Specially, this visit follows the tours of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who visited Egypt, Uganda, Ethiopia and the Republic of Congo to rally support for Russia amid its ongoing war in Ukraine, and of French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau with the aim of renewing France’s relations with the African continent. US Agency for International Development head Samantha Power and US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield also embarked on Africa tours of their own.

Blinken visited Kenya, Senegal, and Nigeria during his 2021 tour, three countries that “meet the minimum requirements for democracies and have all come out of military rule,” Yates said. Blinken has been given authorisation for such a mission by H.R. 7311, the “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act”, which the US House of Representatives passed on April 27, 2022. So-called malign Russian activities include the use of hard and soft power to expand Moscow’s influence on the continent. Russian hard power includes the Wagner Group, a mercenary group with apparent links to Moscow that is present in many countries including the Central African Republic, Sudan and Mali. The group has been sanctioned by the EU for fuelling violence, looting natural resources, and intimidating civilians. Russian soft power includes the use of social and official media to disseminate anti-Western and anti-democracy propaganda.

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