2022 was a wake-up call for the West. The response by the Global South to the war in Ukraine highlighted Russia’s enduring strengths in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia.
This report explores the evolution of Russia’s relations with the countries in the Global South and the ways Russia cultivates these relationships in pursuit of its foreign policy agenda. Moscow’s current interactions in the Global South are driven by the demands of its war of aggression, as well as by its long-term goal: to challenge the international order. The latter dictate several manoeuvres found throughout such engagements: strategic communications, market substitution and sanctions evasion, and regime sheltering.
This report presents three case studies meant to illustrate how Russia’s relations with the Global South have evolved since 2022. First, Tunisia exemplifies a superficial partner, with Moscow’s main tool in the country being strategic communication aimed at shaping public opinion in its favour. Second, India is illustrative of a strategic partner whom Moscow tries to engage in order to substitute for lost energy markets and evade sanctions. Third, Myanmar represents a hierarchical relationship, in which the local regime depends on Moscow for diplomatic support and arms deliveries.
Notwithstanding varied perspectives on and responses to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, countries in the Global South have generally sought to prioritise their economy and security by attempting to strike a balance between Russia and the West. Aware of such desires, Moscow has been exploiting this situation to maintain its influence internationally. Challenging Russia in the Global South will put pressure on the Kremlin and limit its ability to conduct aggressive foreign policy – and wage war against Ukraine. The report concludes with six recommendations on how to counter Russia in the Global South.
Download and read: How Russia Brings Its Aggression Against Ukraine to The Global South (PDF)