I was doing some reading recently and came across a psychology blog that talks about different types of personality disorders and how they impact personal relationships.

One particular section talked about a combination of narcissistic, antisocial and dependent personality disorders and how one can have two or all three at the same time. Vladimir Putin and his Russia immediately came to mind.

Putin is like a toxic partner who keeps coming back when they need you and because he is so charming and seductive, often bringing shiny gifts, you succumb. Putin is back and Salva Kiir and his South Sudan are next on his date list.

The west dumped Russia and now Putin is on the prowl looking for the few ‘available’ countries that are still willing to get into bed with him. When Russia invaded Ukraine there was an overwhelming response with 141 countries uniting to stand against her.

The demand was for Russian troops to withdraw from Ukraine with immediate effect. Four countries stayed by Russia’s side while 47 countries abstained from voting. They chose to remain neutral. They have since gone on to offer crucial support to Putin both economically and in matters of diplomacy.

The war between Russia and Ukraine is potentially an existential threat to humanity all over the world yet the fragmentation that is evident with more nations than before leaning towards a neutral position is telling of how little most countries now think of the crisis.

‘It is a euro-american problem that has nothing to do with us’ is the thought process behind the neutral position taken by most countries.

Most are now rushing to safeguard their interests and ensure that the geopolitical and economic upheaval brought on by the crisis does not run them into the ground. Putin has noticed this and he is making moves on the chessboard.

Putin is so over the breakup with the West 

In the beginning, it may have seemed as though the West had the upper hand as far as Russia and the invasion were concerned. It was thought that the sea of economic sanctions would bring Russia to its knees and make her succumb to the pressure from the West to call a cease-fire.

Freezing foreign currency reserves and targeting Russia’s major banks did rattle the country at the start but not for long. If the West was hoping for a 100 per cent effect, they probably only got, utmost, 30 per cent.

Hundreds of companies stopped engaging Russia but many more have stepped in in their stead, filling up the vacuum and increasing their exports to the country. China and Turkey in particular have swopped in and all but filled in all the gaps brought on by sanctions.

It is however true that in the long term, the sanctions will leave a lasting mark. The devastation has already started with a lot less foreign investment and fast dwindling government reserves.

Russia has had to cut production owing to sanctions affecting the oil trade. There is of course a plan to reroute the natural gas infrastructure towards Asia but this is likely to take several years and cannot, therefore, be counted on as a quick fix.

In the meantime though, the war goes on and guess who can still fund it? Russia. Yes. The IMF released an outlook on Russia’s economy and it can only be termed as too good to be true. The country’s economy is set to grow by 0.3% this year. The previous forecast that predicted a 2.3% contraction is not the case anymore.

Putin is out to find submissive loyalty and Africa seems to be offering it in droves. The CAR is already being described as a vassal state of the Kremlin after Yevgeny Migunov (second secretary at the Russian embassy) made sure that pro-Kremlin Faustin stays beyond the two terms previously stipulated by the constitution.

Officially, he is “staying on for the good of the country”.

Apart from the CAR, Putin’s tentacles are also fast taking hold in Mali, South Africa, Sudan and now South Sudan.

The African tour saw the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov meeting with Sudanese officials in a bid to bolster ties between the two countries, particularly as regards infrastructure.

The President of South Sudan Salva Kiir has now been invited to the second Russia-Africa summit, scheduled for July of this year. This invitation comes even though South Sudan voted alongside the 141 countries for Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

Ambassador Semivolos pointed to growing ties between the two nations with Russia increasing government scholarships for South Sudanese nationals to study in Russian institutions.

The strong do what they can

…and the weak suffer what they must. As Russia continues to encroach into Africa it is evident that Putin’s interests are far more sinister than the humanitarian aid and diplomatic ties being touted by news outlets.

Diplomacy has taken a definite retreat and Putin is doing everything he can to consolidate power.

The west and all countries allied with them are now left to guess what the chess master’s objectives are and how to, if there is even a way, propitiate him in a way that poses the least threat to Ukraine and the rest of the world.

Even though it may not be the case according to many analysts, the dance Putin is having with the world has turned into a game of chess in which he has a definite upper hand; he has a complex hidden strategy and is multiple steps ahead of everybody else.

The master gamer has seen how much the influence of the western world has diminished in Africa. African autocrats are ready to listen.

With the West still ailing from the shadow of colonialism that perpetually hovers over their heads other nations are grabbing the opportunity to take over the continent. Putin is here and he is ready to use force to achieve results; propaganda and even brutality as seen in the Central African Republic.

“When your house is burning, you don’t mind the colour of the water you use to put out the fire. We have calm thanks to the Russians,” said Honoré Bendoit, the sub-prefect of Bria, a capital northeast of Bangui.

“They are violent and they are efficient.” Africa seems to be done with the hypocrisy from the West and Putin is signing sweet music in her ear. Russia has gone rogue and what this means is that the rest of the world must now live life on the edge.

Cover Image by Katie Godowski/ Pexels