Russia in Africa: Soviet Legacies, Current Objectives, Local Responses

This event was hosted by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University on December 8, 2021.

In recent years, Russia has stepped up its engagement in Africa, forging military and security agreements as well as business relationships with leaders in several states. What lies behind Russia’s “return” to Africa? During the Cold War, Africa constituted a major site of Soviet geopolitical competition with the U.S. Does this history, as well as the legacy of Soviet antiracism, inform Russia’s current goals and actions on the continent? Panelists will explore this issue, as well as the impact of Russia’s presence on security and humanitarian crises within Africa. What has been the reaction of various local actors to Russia’s presence? Panelists will also discuss the policy response: how should the international community and the West respond to Russian engagement in Africa?

The Program on U.S.-Russia Relations and the Institute of African Studies hosted a panel discussion on the role of Russia in Africa, organized and moderated by Elise Giuliano (Harriman Institute).


Maxim Matusevich, Professor of Global History and Director of the REES Program at Seton Hall University

Alexandra Lamarche, Senior Advocate for West and Central Africa at Refugees International

John Lechner, Policy Analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)