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Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo, President

DR Congo-Russia: military cooperation in the making?

Source: focusonafrica.info
Source: focusonafrica.info
The 7 th of March, the Russian wire service Press Tass confirmed the approval in Russa of a draft agreement on military cooperation with the DRC. According to the media, this agreement would entail joint military exercises, visits of warships and aircraft on request and military training programmes. This agreement, voted unanimously by the State Duma, is an ambitious plan which intends to reuse all the military bases actually used by MONUSCO (Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en République démocratique du Congo, see UN map) and expand the Russo-Congolese counter-offensive in all threatened provinces. 
The discussion emerged as MONUSCO started withdrawing from the DRC in response to the formal request from the Congolese president and armed forces commander, Félix Tshisekedi. The frustration arising from the UN mission’s inefficiency in countering the spread of the M23 rebel group and the perception of the West’s complicity in the crisis has determined an anti-Western sentiment that the Congolese government uses as political leverage to pressure Western governments.  Indeed, despite Tshisekedi’s declaration in October 2022 to exclude any appeal to Russian private military companies, he recently recalled that this eventual cooperation would represent a logical extension of the 1999 Russian-Congolese agreement on military-technical cooperation in the field of executive training for the FARDC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo) that the then DRC president Laurent Kabila signed with Russia to provide arms delivery, advisory missions and training for military specialists in Russian schools.
Source: inews.co.uk
Russia’s strategic interests in Africa have been on the rise, thanks to the positive feedback and citizens’ support received, for example, in the CAR (Central African Republic), where Russia has emerged as a central security, economic, and political partner. After MINUSCA’s (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) failure, Bangui has become a lynchpin of Moscow’s strategy.
In the DRC, between 2021 et 2023, signals of an increased presence of Afrikansky Korpus (former Gruppa Wagner) operators have increased, in addition to pre-existing mining agreements and some disinformation campaigns. It is still difficult to say whether this cooperation project between Moscow and Kinshasa will be followed up. A recent interview of Tshisekedi with France 24 (6 th of May) shows an increasing inclination towards Russia and China, due to their more politically unpretentious approach. In the meantime, the Russian geo-positioning system, Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), has just fed the whole country’s territory (2.345.000 sq./km) in its main grid system. If the agreement comes to fruition, it will be a crucial Russian success in Africa, comparable to the one in Syria.

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