While the relationship between the DRC and Russia is regarded as friendly; economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries are not well developed. Having yet to establish a comprehensive commercial presence in the DRC, Russian engagement centres around the sale of weapons and military training activities.

However, this relationship appears to be evolving quickly as both countries continue to face a variety of complex internal and external factors, which have contributed to an overall decline in their respective diplomatic relations and commercial environments.

The Congolese government itself is under severe international pressure to hold already-delayed presidential elections and to address allegations of widespread human rights abuses, and – in return for potential preferential access to the DRC’s natural resources – appears to be turning to Russia for diplomatic support.

Impact Points

  • While not traditionally considered close allies, over the past 18 months, senior officials from both countries have reaffirmed their respective government’s intentions to develop their mutually beneficial cooperation in the political, economic and social spheres.
  • Ultimately, in light of increasing international pressure on the Congolese government to hold elections, the DRC appears to be attempting to cultivate closer diplomatic ties to Russia amid growing strains in its relationship with the EU and US (Reuters, 13.05.2018).
  • This evolving relationship may well represent a growing trend across Africa, as countries turn to less traditional partners when seeking commercial investment and international political support at a time when US interest and influence on the continent is being questioned.