Russia’s Burkinabe Deployment Is A Pretty Big Deal
Slowly but surely, a new Russian-backed pole of influence is emerging in Africa, which could eventually attract the participation of neighboring multipolar countries like similarly military-led Guinea.
The first 100 troops from Russia’s Africa Corps just deployed to Burkina Faso as a result of last summer’s bilateral deal between President Putin and his anti-imperialist counterpart Ibrahim Traore. They’ll be followed by 200 more in the coming future, who’ll help train the armed forces and carry out patrols in dangerous areas according to Bloomberg, which also noted that this group will replace Wagner’s regional functions. These five pieces should bring everyone up to speed if they aren’t already:
* 6 October 2022: “Why’s The West So Spooked By Possible Burkinabe-Russian Military Cooperation?”
* 15 February 2023: “Russia’s Newfound Appeal To African Countries Is Actually Quite Easy To Explain”
In brief, Burkina Faso liberated itself from France’s neo-colonialism under the leadership of President Traore, who came to power in a patriotic military coup. He immediately sought Russia’s assistance in managing Hybrid War threats such as French-backed terrorist groups, which Moscow promptly agreed to per its commitment to “Democratic Security”. Burgeoning Russian-Burkinabe relations had the effect of accelerating regional multipolar processes and speeding up the erosion of French influence.
These trends culminated in September’s creation of the Sahelian Alliance that brought together Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, which soon thereafter announced plans to merge into a confederation. Work on these complementary integration projects is ongoing and will likely take some time to see tangible results, but the first priority is to ensure that the progress achieved thus far won’t be reversed, ergo the need to strengthen their collective security with Russian assistance.
Russian advisors are already present in Mali so the expansion of their mission to Burkina Faso means that roughly half of the Sahelian Alliance/Confederation will receive some level of security support from that same country. The odd man out is Niger, which still hosts US troops, but its interim military government reached an unspecified security deal with Russia earlier this month. It’s unclear whether Russia will also deploy there too, but training could theoretically take place in Burkina Faso and/or Mali.
Slowly but surely, a new Russian-backed pole of influence is emerging in Africa, which could eventually attract the participation of neighboring multipolar countries like similarly military-led Guinea. That country is envisaged to function as the Sahelian Alliance/Confederation’s most reliable outlet to the sea, though it’s premature to predict what form its cooperation with those three could take. Nevertheless, the point is that Russia is helping to reshape continental geopolitics, and the West isn’t happy at all.
The liberation of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger from France’s neo-colonialism was met with a flurry of information warfare provocations from the Mainstream Media, which fearmongered that they’ve all become dictatorships where terrorism is supposedly bound to return with gusto. The reality is that the West is trying to manipulate global perceptions about the legitimacy of these governments in order to precondition their audience for an upsurge in terrorism disguised as a “democratic rebellion”.
It’s here where Russia’s “Democratic Security” assistance will be crucial since this Eurasian Great Power has plenty of experience fighting against this scourge in Chechnya, Syria, and the Central African Republic, not to mention what it’s learned throughout the course of the special operation. Furthermore, this doesn’t just take kinetic forms, but also involves debunking hostile narratives aimed at destabilizing targeted countries (both by delegitimizing their leadership and inciting unrest).
On-the-ground deployments are crucial for performing both “Democratic Security” tasks, with the reasons for kinetic operations being self-explanatory while the non-kinetic ones are greatly aided by the ability of associated experts to see the socio-political situation with their own eyes and better assess it. The latest dispatch of troops to Burkina Faso is therefore a pretty big deal because it’ll help defend the western half of the Sahelian Alliance/Confederation when combined with the existing Malian mission.
That leaves Niger as the so-called “weakest link”, but its military balancing act between America and Russia has thus far seemed to have saved it from the spree of terrorist attacks that shortly followed France’s withdrawals from Burkina Faso and Mali, at least for now. The situation could always change, but the US would do well to deter France from retributive Hybrid War attacks since deteriorating security conditions could lead to that military-led government requesting Russian troops just like its allies did.
For the time being, the balance of external influence within the Sahelian Alliance/Confederation is heavily in Russia’s favor since it’s now deployed to two of its three members while having also clinched an unspecified military cooperation deal with the last of them earlier this month. France has no direct influence over those governments, but it’s suspected of being behind Burkina Faso and Mali’s spree of terrorist attacks since the withdrawal of its forces, while the US still has troops in two Nigerien bases.
If Russia’s “Democratic Security” missions in the Burkinabe-Malian half of the Sahelian Alliance/Confederation succeed, then those two would be in better positions to assist their Nigerien allies at the request of its military leadership if need be upon the stabilization of their shared border. In that case, Russian troops wouldn’t even have to deploy in Niger, whose armed forces could also be trained in those other two during the interim as they jointly fight against shared terrorist threats.
With this in mind and recalling the insight that was shared earlier in this analysis about the way in which the Sahelian Alliance/Confederation revolutionizes West Africa’s military-strategic dynamics, readers should now hopefully be able to better appreciate the importance of Russia’s Burkinabe deployment. It’ll go long way towards ensuring that this emerging pole can defend itself from French Hybrid War threats, which will in turn contribute to reshaping continental geopolitics and accelerating multipolar processes.