Russia strengthens presence in Burkina Faso, deals a blow to France

In a move reflecting a strategic shift on the African continent, Russia announced the strengthening of its military cooperation with Burkina Faso, sending a subtle yet challenging message to France. During his visit to the African country led by a military regime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed the increase in the number of Russian military trainers in the country, noting that this cooperation will contribute to eradicating terrorism.

Burkina Faso’s Rapprochement with Moscow

The visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Burkina Faso was not just a stop on his African tour but a diplomatic shift reshaping the balance of power in the region. Lavrov, who met with military president Ibrahim Traoré, clearly demonstrated Moscow’s direction towards strengthening its relations with African countries seeking new partners to face security challenges and terrorism.

Tensions with France

According to Mohamed Ahmed, a researcher specializing in African affairs: Since Traoré took over in Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou has gradually distanced itself from France, the former colonial power that has been the country’s main partner for decades.

He added: This distancing was not hidden but manifested in statements and policies showing Burkina Faso‘s desire to diversify its alliances and seek support beyond the traditional framework provided by Paris. The increased rapprochement with Russia is considered a reevaluation of foreign relations and indicates a strategic shift that could redefine French influence in the region.

He continued: This step comes as Burkina Faso seeks to address increasing security challenges and looks for partners capable of providing the necessary military support and training for its forces. The growing Russian presence, through the increase in the number of military trainers and the training of Burkinabe security forces in Russia, is a clear message to the international community that Burkina Faso seeks to enhance its defense capabilities with Moscow’s help.

The African affairs researcher added that this visit is not only an expression of new alliances but also an affirmation that Burkina Faso wants to play a more active role on the international stage. By cooperating with Russia, Burkina Faso shows its readiness to explore new options and build relationships based on mutual interests and respect, away from the traditional influence exercised by France in the past.

Combating Terrorism and Russian Criticism of the West

Burkina Faso, which has been suffering from terrorist attacks for a decade resulting in thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions, seeks to strengthen its military capabilities through cooperation with Moscow. In this context, relations between Burkina Faso and neighboring countries like Mali and Niger are becoming closer, as the three countries face similar security challenges and have recently withdrawn from the Economic Community of West African States, accusing it of being subservient to France.

Lavrov’s African tour, which included Guinea and the Congo, served as a platform to criticize Western policies and anti-Russian goals, especially concerning the Ukrainian crisis. The tour is set to continue to Chad, reflecting Russia’s expanding influence and strengthening of its relations with military regimes on the African continent.

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