At the same time, numerous divergences limit the space for Russia-EU cooperation in Africa:
- The EU is undergoing a period of challenges and sometimes is facing difficulties to forge common positions, including on Africa. Moreover, many EU member states argue against cooperation with Russia. In these circumstances, it is very difficult to find common ground.
- Russia ranks first in terms of arms sales on the African continent, which is heavily criticized in the EU.
- In addition to selling weapons and military equipment, Russia is already investing in oil, gas and nuclear energy on the African continent and is also interested in developing non-ferrous metals, including diamonds. This puts it in direct competition to companies from the EU.
- The definition and implementation of sovereignty. In order to meet the development challenges and needs of the population, African countries have to resort to external financing. However, the main sources – loans from international financial institutions and direct loans – are conditioned upon the implementation of socio-economic and political requirements that limit the sovereignty of African countries. These divergences in approaches and understanding create tension in other realms of possible cooperation among Russia and the EU in Africa.
The Russia – Africa Summit in Sochi in October 2019 stood for Russia's increasing interest to engage with the African continent. Time will tell if the expectations and declarations expressed at the summit will come to fruition. Moscow has declared its claim to be considered as a significant player and partner in Africa as part of its wider ambitions on the world stage. Recent events have also increased the need for proposals as to how to bring about a new paradigm in Russian-EU, EU-African and Russian-African relations that focus on policy cooperation and the promotion of a stable, responsible and inclusive business environment in Africa.