UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Pentagon Fears Losing 'Freedom of Manoeuvre' in Africa Amid Growing Russian, Chinese Clout - Report

Sputnik News

14:23 16.08.2019(updated 14:33 16.08.2019)

Earlier, US National Security Advisor John Bolton accused Moscow and Beijing of "deliberately and aggressively" attempting to extend their "predatory" influence over the African continent, and said that all US efforts were aimed at "further[ing] US priorities in the region."

Previously unpublished written Congressional testimony by Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser, former head of US Africa Command (US AFRICOM), and Army General Stephen Townsend, who replaced him at the post late last month, shows growing concerns among the Pentagon over Russia and China's growing diplomatic, economic and military influence over Africa, The Intercept has reported.

By statistics alone, China seems to be the larger prospective 'problem' for Washington, given the country's whopping $170 billion in trade with the continent in 2017 (compared with $39 billion for the US the same year), and the membership of 39 of Africa's 54 states as partners in China's ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure plan. Russian trade with the continent amounted to $17.4 billion in 2017, with projects focusing on nuclear power, technology, oil and gas, and has grown over three-fold since 2009. A similar trend has been observed in Russian and Chinese cultural influence, according to the Pentagon, with Chinese government-sponsored Confucius Institutes and Russia's Russkiy Mir Foundation said to be operating in 20 and nine African countries, respectively. Russian and Chinese arms sales, security agreements, private military contractor operations, and the prospects of more Chinese bases on the continent alongside the existing base in Djibouti are another concern, AFRICOM fears.

While Gen. Waldhauser's public Senate Armed Services testimony focused mostly on Russia's efforts in the Central African Republic, Algeria, Libya and Sudan, The Intercept noted that his written responses also mentioned six other countries 'susceptible' to alleged "Russian exploitative efforts," including Angola, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania and Tunisia.

Echoing Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton's earlier claims about Russia providing military assistance in exchange for various economic partnerships, Waldhauser stressed that AFRICOM was working "with a host of partners to be the military partner of choice in Africa," without specifying the exact nature of US activities.


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list