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Soviet and Russian Foreign Aid To African Countries: Comparative Political Analysis

Student: Bogdan Shepelskii

Supervisor: Maxim Bratersky

Faculty: Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs

Educational Programme: Double degree programme in International Relations of the NRU HSE and the University of London (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2020

Foreign aid as an instrument of political influence has been existing for several millennia. In common sense, a foreign aid is most likely to be seen as an ability to ensure the stability of status quo (as when we see a state sending humanitarian aid and paramedic troops to the neighbour after a devastating earthquake); or to maintain and improve it (when IMF grants a loan to a new member hoping it will promote its economy and eventually increase a volume of international trade). However, it is possible to use foreign aid to challenge and to change status quo. After a long pause in relations between Russia and Africa, created by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the significant part of the influence on the continent was lost, and the current situation is not as beneficial as it was in the past century. Nevertheless, not all connections were lost, and Russo-African relations significantly improved throughout the last decade. This work analyses how Moscow developed ties with Africa and changed the power balance in the continent during the XX century and compare these exercises of influence through the instrument of foreign aid with those of the present. When starting its relations with Africa, USSR effectively managed to accelerate the change of the status quo during the wave of decolonisation and to ally itself with many newly formed states which were promoting Soviet sphere of influence and exporting needed raw resources. Today it is not possible to filll the vacuum of power over Africa once more; Russia has to preserve relations with African states which it already has and to develop a number of the new one. It can be done through the implementation of foreign aid; it is vitally important to manage it in both ways - to challenge the sphere of influence of the opponent and to maintain the status-quo within the allied sphere in order not to lose the connection with Africa once and for all.

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