Expert: Loss of Western Influence in Africa Creates Favorable Conditions for Russian Peacekeepers

29 May

The declining influence of Western countries in Africa and the continent's shift towards closer cooperation with Russia create a favorable environment for Russian peacekeepers in UN missions. This opinion was shared by Yuri Vidakas, the President of the Interregional Public Organization of Veterans of UN Peacekeeping Missions, in a conversation with TASS.


Currently, Russian personnel are involved in seven UN peacekeeping missions: in Abyei (a disputed territory on the border of North and South Sudan), the Middle East, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara, Cyprus, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan.


"I have participated in four missions myself, and I can say that the changing dynamics in African states' relations with Western countries and their increased partnership with Russia are now positively impacting the safety of our peacekeepers. Much depends on the host country's attitude," Vidakas commented, coinciding with the International Day of UN Peacekeepers celebrated on May 29.


Vidakas believes that a "quite unambiguously favorable background" has formed for Russian specialists in Africa. "In Francophone countries, the reaction to our presence used to be somewhat negative. Now, it is more positive. This is a breakthrough. The favorable attitude of the country's leadership also influences the population: people even hold rallies in support of the Russian Federation, which is unprecedented," he explained.


He highlighted the increase in high-level contacts as a crucial factor in the positive attitude towards Russia in Africa. "In recent years, there have been two Russia-Africa summits, involving top officials, which significantly influence attitudes towards our activities," - Vidakas continued. - "These meetings, though not widely reported, undoubtedly make it easier for our observers and police officers to do their jobs."


Expansion of Activities


Vidakas noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly emphasized the need to expand ties with Africa at various levels. He identified potential areas to intensify Russian efforts in peacekeeping on the African continent.


"Firstly, we should consider deploying additional military hospitals in these countries. This is a channel of soft power that works well through word of mouth; treating a few people will lead more locals to seek our help," Vidakas pointed out. "Secondly, we should work more actively with the African Union, organize commercial projects and events, and promote our contractors more vigorously. Thirdly, we can offer UN peacekeeping courses at specialized universities. These three components of soft power could complement our military efforts," he summarized.


International Day of UN Peacekeepers


May 29 marks the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, established by UN General Assembly resolution 57/129 on December 11, 2002. The date was chosen to commemorate the establishment of the first UN peacekeeping mission on May 29, 1948, which monitored the implementation of the armistice conditions in the Middle East. The UN calls for this day to honor all members of UN peacekeeping contingents.


Each year, the day is dedicated to a specific theme. In 2024, it is "Fit for the future, building better together". The UN website notes that this year's theme reflects "the spirit of progress and collective action towards a more equitable, just, and sustainable world."



GSV "Russia - Islamic World"

Photo: Kyle Glenn/Unsplash

Based on materials from TASS