Lavrov visits Guinea as Russia seeks to boost African ties

The Russian foreign ministry announced Lavrov’s visit to Guinea’s capital Conakry, stating it was part of a wider tour of African countries though not specifying which other nations he plans to visit.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Guinea on Monday, his first trip to the West African nation in over a decade as Moscow works to expand its influence across the African continent.

The Russian foreign ministry announced Lavrov’s visit to Guinea’s capital Conakry, stating it was part of a wider tour of African countries though not specifying which other nations he plans to visit.

The trip comes as Russia aims to deepen political and economic relations with African states, a strategic priority for the Kremlin amid increasing isolation from the West over its war in Ukraine. Last July, President Vladimir Putin hosted dozens of African leaders at a summit in St. Petersburg, hailing a commitment to a just and democratic multipolar world order.

However, the summit drew a relatively low turnout of just 17 heads of state, which the Kremlin blamed on alleged “interventions” by Western powers critical of Russia’s wartime outreach.

Lavrov’s stop in Guinea continues the recent flurry of high-level Russian engagement across Africa. He last visited the country, a former French colony, back in 2013. Guinea’s military junta leader Mamady Doumbouya met with Putin in Sochi in May.

Political analysts suggest Russia likely aims to secure more diplomatic backing and explore opportunities for trade and energy deals during Lavrov’s tour. Moscow has faced a raft of Western sanctions limiting its economic reach.

Guinea is a leading producer of bauxite, an aluminium ore. Russian aluminium giant Rusal has companies operating in Guinea, which could offer areas for expanded cooperation. However, the nation of 13 million has been mired in civil unrest and military overthrows.

Lavrov’s diplomatic overtures come as Russia’s military involvement through the private Wagner mercenary group faces increased scrutiny. The United States last month designated the leader of the security firm, Yevgeny Prigozhin, as a threat for allegedly enabling grotesque violence in Africa.

As Lavrov conducts his African tour, he’ll likely tout pledges of no-strings-attached Russian support while seeking concrete partnership deals to help offset Moscow’s growing international isolation.