MOSCOW (AP) — Russia is ready to supply Somalia’s army with military equipment in its war against terrorism, Russia’s foreign minister said Friday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the offer after talks with his Somali counterpart Abshir Omar Jama in Moscow.
Russia’s top diplomat said Moscow reaffirmed its readiness to meet the material needs of the Somalian army in its fight against extremists that remain on Somalian territory including al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda.”
The offer further underscores Russia’s growing interest in the African continent upstaging the west in countries facing conflict.
Currently, Russian mercenaries Wagner are present in the Central African Republic, Mali, Mozambique and Libya.
Somalia has faced numerous attacks from al-Qaida’s East Africa affiliate group, al-Shabab and recently the government embarked on what has been described as the most significant offensive against the al-Shabab extremist group in more than a decade.
The extremist group has held back the nation’s recovery from decades of conflict.
Russia’s game plan in Africa has involved seeking alliances with regimes or juntas shunned by the West or facing insurgencies and internal challenges to their rule.
The African leaders get recognition from the Kremlin and military muscle from Wagner. They pay for it by giving Russia prime access to their oil, gas, gold, diamonds and valuable minerals.
Russian influence in Africa was evidenced when the United Nations 17 of the 35 countries that abstained from a vote on a resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine were African.
Somalia had voted in favor of Ukraine resolution but has been working on improving relations with Russia that were severed in 1978 when Moscow backed Ethiopia in a war with Somalia.