On March 31, 2022, 4 members of the US House of Representatives, led by Democrat Gregory Meeks, submitted for consideration a bill “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa”. On April 5, the bill was considered by the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, which decided to submit the bill to a voice vote in the House of Representatives. On April 27 the bill passed the House of Representatives and was submitted to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
The current version of the bill assumes that, if the act is adopted, the US Secretary of State will be charged with preparing and submitting to Congress a strategy and an implementation plan aimed at countering Russia’s malicious actions in Africa.
According to the Sense of Congress, the United States should regularly analyze the aims of Russian actions in Africa, as they can undermine the goals and interests of the United States. It is also necessary to determine measures to counter Russia’s influence through foreign aid programs and to hold accountable the governments of Russia and African countries and individual officials whose complicity in “malign activities” has been confirmed.
The Secretary of State must provide the US House of Representatives committees with a strategy and an implementation plan aimed at struggling against “the malign influence and activities of the Russian Federation and its proxies” in Africa in 90 days after the adoption of the bill. These documents should include programs and initiatives aimed at strengthening democratic institutions; protection of human rights; development of tax and anti-corruption legislation; as well as monitoring of extractive industries.
180 days after the adoption of the law, and then annually for 5 years, the Secretary of State, after consulting with the heads of other federal authorities, must submit to the Committees on International Affairs of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate a report on the strategy, implementation plan and measures taken to counter Russia’s malicious actions in Africa.
This report should include an assessment of Russian actions in Africa, as well as related strategic objectives in diplomacy, politics, economics and security. In these fields Russian proxies, oligarchs, PMCs, as well as other individuals and structures directly or indirectly associated with Russia are involved. The report should also include Russian officials who influence African governments and the legislation of African countries, public opinion and the will of the population. Finally, those persons who control the extraction of minerals, are responsible for the deployment of military contingents (and other types of military-technical cooperation), and are also involved in work in the information and communication sphere, are of interest to the United States, in accordance with the bill.
Some sections of the report should be devoted to the expenditure to counter Russia’s influence in Africa, to an analysis of the restrictions that prevent an effective fight against Russia and a review of initiatives and assistance programs of other international donors and partner countries of the United States aimed at struggling against actions of the Russian Federation. This report will also include data on the African governments, individual Russian and African officials who are helping to circumvent sanctions imposed by the United States. The report must be submitted openly, but may have a classified attachment.
“The adoption of this law will not significantly expand the US tools for countering Russian growing influence in Africa,” says Vsevolod Sviridov, a researcher at Intexpertise*, ‘”U.S. officials already have mechanisms at their disposal that can solve most of the tasks listed in the bill. Among them being the Global Magnitsky Act (for officials responsible for human rights violations and corruption), the Global Fragility Act (to prevent conflicts through foreign aid), and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions (CAATSA, to put pressure on businesses and PMCs),” he adds. “This bill should be treated as an official declaration and institutionalization of the US struggle against Russia in Africa; though, practical steps in this direction have been already taken by the Trump administration”.
Author: Maria Pashkova