The colonial mindset comparison is apt as the West seeks to take control over African and Latin American resources. While this is nothing new, the statements coming from the West make clear that countries friendly with Moscow and/or Beijing should expect even more concerted efforts at infiltration, sanctions, and any other means to restrict ties with the Russia-China bloc.
While some smaller states could benefit from being wooed by both sides, many will likely suffer as increased subversion and proxy conflicts are likely to play out in those countries. Take the comments from US officials to Bloomberg on Feb. 24 that the US, in year two of the war, is going to double down its efforts to “tighten the screws” on countries still keeping a foot in both camps.
This will be especially true in states that are resource rich – whether in oil, gas, or “green” commodities. These battles are already underway across Africa and are likely to intensify. North African countries have thus far been unwilling to help “isolate” Russia. The EU energy situation is still dire, which it is trying to remedy with a renewed push into Africa in search of oil and gas, as well as a race to control “green” resources. China does not want to give ground in Africa, and Russia, while seeking to prevent any isolation, can also sooner bring Europe to its knees if it throws a wrench in the EU-Africa energy plans.
North Africa is also a promising place for the future production of green hydrogen, an energy source that is likely to be essential for the EU to fulfil its climate goals in hard-to-decarbonise sectors. And the region is also home to critical raw materials (CRMs) necessary for the energy transition, offering the EU the opportunity to further diversify its supply chains for clean energy technologies. North Africa’s young and well-educated workforce also offers the EU not only a potential workforce for technology manufacturing closer to home than Asian markets, but also the skills necessary for meaningful cooperation in areas such as research and development (R&D).