Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lauded his country’s relationship with Eritrea and informed the world about Moscow’s plans to build a logistics center there.
He was speaking alongside his Eritrean counterpart at a press conference in Sochi after their bilateral meeting, which he also noted included discussions about building regional transport corridors, pipelines, and opening up a Russian language department in one of Asmara’s universities. Lavrov also said that the UNSC sanctions against Eritrea that were imposed in 2009 after reports that the country was aiding Somalia’s Al-Shaabab should be lifted, and he praised Eritrea for all that it’s done in the name of regional peace over the past few months in view of its rapidly moving rapprochement with Ethiopia that completely transformed the geopolitical situation in the Horn of Africa.
In terms of the bigger picture, it appears as though Russia is keen to use Eritrea as a gateway to regional giant Ethiopia, which is the second-most-populous country in Africa and its fastest-growing economy. The Eritrean-Ethiopian rapprochement will see Addis Ababa diversify its access to the rest of the world from its erstwhile mono-dependence on Djibouti, which will expectedly see Eritrea’s connectivity role growing in importance as well. Moreover, Russia’s intended investments in Eritrea signal that it’s serious about its so-called “Pivot to Africa” and eager to establish a strategic presence in the Red Sea-Horn of Africa region after being reportedly offered a naval base in neighboring Sudan and amidst unconfirmed reports that it was earlier considering one in the breakaway region of Somaliland.
Unbeknownst to many, the Russian-Emirati Strategic Partnership is already surprisingly robust as it is even without any overlapping interests in the Horn of Africa. The two sides inked a nearly $2 billion defense deal in February 2017 and have vowed to cooperate in the cybersecurity and energy spheres. In addition, the oil-rich collection of emirates wants to purchase Russia’s electric cars and motorcycles, as well as the Aurus brand of luxury sedans that President Putin recently popularized. In fact, the sky’s not even the limit to Russian-Emirati cooperation, literally, because Moscow is preparing to send one of its partner’s cosmonauts to the International Space Station in the near future.
Full article: Russia’s Pivoting To The Horn Of Africa Via Eritrea & The UAE (Oriental Review)