Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov published an op-ed in four African newspapers last month explaining why he was touring several countries on the continent and why African nations should support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr Lavrov blamed Western sanctions for Africa’s food crisis and claimed that unlike the UK, France, Belgium and other European powers, Russia “has not sullied itself with crimes bloody colonialism”.
The idea that Russia avoided colonial expansion has surprising resonance in the West and elsewhere. Russia never had official colonies in Africa, Latin America or South Asia. But the idea that the Kremlin avoided colonization projects altogether – that it dodged the “bloody crimes” for which the Dutch, Spanish or Portuguese empires were responsible – is as laughable as it is ahistorical.