A Bridge Between the Global North and Africa? Putin’s Russia and G8 Development Commitments

by Pamela A. Jordan

Abstract

This article investigates the extent to which President Vladimir Putin’s Africa policy was shaped by Russia’s membership in the Group of Eight (G8). Mindful of the changing geopolitical situation and Africa’s role in the global economy, Russian officials have viewed Russia’s ability to forgive the debt of African nations and contribute to solving international development problems within the G8’s framework as measures of its economic success and resurgence as a great power. Moreover, its G8-oriented strategy became a key part of Russia’s relations with Africa. Putin officials argued that Russia was better positioned to defend the interests of developing countries and could act as a metaphorical bridge between the G8 and the global South. While Russia complied with several Africa-related G8 commitments, its arms sales to Sudan and a widespread perception that it gave Africa inadequate attention during its chairmanship of the G8 in 2006 weakened its attempts to portray itself as a bridge between the global North and Africa.

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Pamela A. Jordan is an associate professor of history at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. She is the author of Defending Rights in Russia: Lawyers, the State, and Legal Reform in the Post-Soviet Era (University of British Columbia Press, 2005), as well as several articles in scholarly journals on legal reform and human rights in Russia and Russia’s membership in the G8. Her research project on Russia and the G8 was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She wishes to thank Geoff Cunfer, Paul Holtom, Simonne Horwitz, John McCannon, Jim Miller, James Richter, Valerie Sperling, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. However, the opinions and errors herein are entirely her own.