Currently pending in the United States Congress, specifically referred from the House of Representatives to the Senate as of today, is the so-called “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” (H.R. 7311), which passed the House with 415 to 9 votes.
The proposed law, which would require the Department of State to furnish an annual report to Congress on how best to counter Russian activities in Africa, was introduced by Democratic Representative Gregory Weldon Meeks, who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (and as such is the first Black Member of Congress to serve as Chair of that committee).
The Bill as currently drafted requires Congress to “[r]egularly assess the scale and scope of the Russian Federation’s influence and activities in Africa that undermine United States objectives and interests, and determine how to address and counter such influence and activities effectively, including through appropriate United States foreign assistance programmes; and to hold accountable the Russian Federation and African governments and their officials who are complicit in aiding such malign influence and activities.”
Andreas Stargard, an attorney with Primerio Ltd. with a focus area on Africa, notes: “The proposed Act does not come as a surprise to us. It is not a coincidence that certain African countries sport a Kalashnikov assault rifle in their national regalia, and even national flags. The U.S.S.R. has historically had close ties to many continental (shadow) governments, and provided significant assistance, training, and refuge to African independence movements from the early 1950s onward. Post-perestroika, the Russia government has maintained these historic ties to Africa, now focussing on economic assistance rather than the revolutionary aid of the past.”
Identifying the specifically concerning portions of the bill, Mr. Stargard continues: “What is really of interest to African companies, their officers and directors, as well as government officials are sub-sections (b)(2)(E) and (F). These two provisions call for the annual report to identify all ‘African governments and government officials, Russian government officials, and other individuals and entities that have facilitated payments and other prohibited activities that benefit United States-sanctioned individuals and entities tied to Russia‘, as well as all ‘foreign companies and persons that have provided transportation, logistical, administrative, border crossing, or money transfer services to Russian mercenaries or armed forces operating on behalf of the Russian Government in Libya…’.”