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African defence market feels ripple effects of Russian sanctions

30th March 2022 - 15:30 GMT | by Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo in Milan

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UN peacekeepers in Mali, pictured in December 2021. Mali faces a double impact from ECOWAS sanctions and sanctions imposed on Russia amid the invasion of Ukraine. (Photo: UN/MINUSMA)

How is the imposition of political and economic sanctions on Russia affecting regions heavily dependent on military equipment provided by Moscow and could this serve as an opportunity for new competing countries to attempt to fill a void?

According to the most recent data from SIPRI, Russia was the largest arms supplier to Africa from 2017 to 2021, accounting for 44% of the continent’s defence equipment imports. The attraction around Russian arms has been their cheaper prices and ease of maintenance for African states.

Although sanctions imposed on Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine are likely to cause disruption, security experts agree that they will not be a real critical issue for most African countries.

Michael Shurkin, director of global programmes at consultancy 14 North Strategies, noted that African militaries tend not to rely on any single supplier

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