The Rondeli Foundation’s Russian Geostrategy Monitor is a monthly brief that tracks Russian geostrategy worldwide employing the framework set in The Structure of Modern Russia’s Foreign Strategy. Russian geostrategic activities are also tracked on the regularly updated interactive Russian Geostrategy Map.
Issue 8 covers Russian geostrategy for the month of August 2023. The numbering and contents of the Outcomes, Goals and Objectives follows The Structure of Modern Russia’s Foreign Strategy framework.
Outcome 1: Replacement of the United States’ international preeminence with a ‘multipolar’ or ‘polycentric’ system, with Russia in the position of one of the principal ‘poles’
- During his online participation in the BRICS summit held in South Africa on 22-24 August 2023, Vladimir Putin continued to stress Moscow’s messages for building the new ‘multipolar’ world order to replace the West’s global leadership.
- Lavrov published an article at a South African outlet on 21 August. Besides more talk about the “multipolar world order,” Lavrov stressed that “Russia is a state-civilization, the largest Eurasian and Euro-Pacific power.”
Objective 9: Achieving de-sovereignization of Ukraine
- In the Russo-Ukrainian War, Ukrainians continued to gradually break through the Russian defenses on the southern front. Russian attacks in the northern part of the frontline failed to result in significant advance.
Objective 10: Achieving decisive influence over Georgia
- On 26 August, Dmitry Medvedev praised the Georgian government, saying that “the current generation of authorities and the political force that is in power in Georgia have some pragmatism and this needs to be noted.” Medvedev said this is why Moscow was “developing relations” with Tbilisi. He also called “freaks” those Georgian politicians who are against this development, including Salome Zourabichvili.
Objective 16: Entrenching Russian influence in sub-Saharan Africa
- According to some Russian sources, “the recent coup d’état in Niger was conducted in close cooperation of the Russian intelligence agencies and Private Military Company consultants.”
- On 3 August, The president of Niger Mohamed Bazoum published an article, asking for foreign help to defeat the military junta and writing that “the entire central Sahel region could fall to Russian influence via the Wagner Group.”
- On 11 August, Russia warned against foreign intervention against the military junta in Niger, saying it would lead to a “protracted confrontation, and “destabilise the Sahel region as a whole.”
- On 15 August, in a conversation with the Mali regime leader, Putin stressed “the importance of settling the situation around the Republic of Niger exclusively through peaceful political-diplomatic means,” expressing Moscow’s stance against a potential foreign military intervention against the Niger coup-borne regime and for the restoration of democratic governance in the country.
- On 24 August, Lavrov made the following comment regarding the situation in Niger: “I do not think that an invasion will benefit anyone. From another part of ECOWAS a force to oppose the invasion is already being formed [referring to Mali, Burkina Faso and potentially Guinea]. I do not wish for Africans a scenario of this kind. It would be destructive and deadly for large number of countries and thousands of people.”
- Russia started an online propaganda campaign in support of the coup in Niger in August, with “social media channels associated with the Russian state” launching “a major effort to exploit… military coup in Niger, seeking to reinforce Moscow’s influence in the country and possibly open opportunities for intervention.”
- A rally displaying Russian flags was reportedly held in the town of Agadez in northern Niger, with demands for the US forces’ withdrawal from a nearby American military base.
- Throughout August, mobs of coup supporters continued to gather in the streets in Niger carrying Russian flags.
- On 7 August, the CAR ruling regime announced the result of the 30 July “referendum” allowing its leader Touadéra to stay in power indefinitely. Wagner Group had been reported to be providing security for the “referendum.”
- In early August, the Russian Wagner Group forces assisted troops of the Mali ruling regime in attacking forces of the Tuareg rebels in the area of the town of Ber.
- On 15 August, CSIS published a material showing that the Wagner Group “is not only staying in Mali but is actively expanding its base capacity in Bamako and may intend to transfer additional valuable military equipment there in the near future.”
- A Russian Defense Ministry delegation visited Burkina Faso on 31 August, holding talks with the local regime about providing it with Russian military support, including the training of officers and pilots in Russia.
- Pro-Russian rallies reportedly occurred in the Ghanian town of Sekondi-Takoradi, with participants exhibiting Russian flags and voicing support for the regimes in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Objective 20: Alignment with China
- In early August, it became publicly known that in late July eleven Russian and Chinese warships had maneuvered near the coast of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, US.
- In August, Russia and China conducted joint naval exercises and patrols in the East China Sea.
Objective 26: Developing cooperation platforms with non-Western powers
- On 3 August, Moscow welcomed future addition of new member states to BRICS saying the organization “would be strengthened by adding new members.”
- On 24 August 2023, BRICS member states including Russia invited Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Argentina and Ethiopia to join the organization on 1 January 2024.
- Lavrov’s comment on 27 August pointed at Moscow’s intention to continue efforts to use the G20 as one of the platforms to push its diplomatic agenda, rather than exclusively develop BRICS as an alternative for G20.