09/10/2021, 09.26
RUSSIA-CHINA-GUINEA
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Conakry coup troubles Moscow and Beijing aluminum supplies

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Kremlin and Chinese have invested heavily in Guinean mines, supporting deposed President Alpha Condé.  The role of the Russians in the international traffic of cocaine, which also passes through Guinea. Suspicions that the US and Europe favored the coup to weaken Russia and China.

 

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The September 5 coup d'état in Guinea has upended the global aluminum market plunging Russia and China into troubled waters.  The African country is the supplier of a quarter of global bauxite production, a sector of the Guinean economy in which the Russians have invested heavily in recent years.

A group of soldiers led by Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya deposed President Alpha Condé, in office since 2010. Guinea's head of state had amended the Constitution to grant himself a third term.

Not only the Chinese, but also various Russian oligarchs and politicians had bet heavily on Condé. Evgenij Prigožin, known as "Putin's cook" had also taken part in the organization of the referendum for the constitutional change: a specialist in disinformation and spreading of "trolls" on the Internet to support the campaigns of his boss, Prigožin's teams of cyberbullies have been active for years in many African countries.

There is a heated competition between Russia and China for the exploitation of iron ore and various components of the Guinean subsoil. The Baowu group, one of China's leaders in steel production, had its hands on one of Guinea's major mining sites, the Simandou mine. In this field, one of the main players in the country is also the Rusal of Oleg Deripaska, a powerful Russian oligarch. Called "the Kremlin's wallet," and sanctioned several times by the U.S., he owns several mineral deposits in Guinea.

Conakry is the main supplier of bauxite to Deripaska's empire, which immediately raised an alarm about the possible consequences of the recent coup. The Conakry regime was well known to businessmen around the world for its widespread practice of corruption, which eventually provoked the military's revolt. In addition to the selling off of subsoil resources, Guinea is also notable for its important role in international drug trafficking.

Shipments of cocaine from Latin America, destined for the European market, pass through West Africa. In addition to Guinea, other transit countries are Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde. The drug barons have long been on very good terms with the Russians: in 2013, the German newspaper Der Spiegel had pointed to Guinea as the main crossroads for international cocaine smuggling. In 2019, authorities in Cape Verde had blocked a Russian cargo ship moving from Guinea with 10 tons of cocaine.

One of the versions circulated in the Russian media, much like Prigožin's trolls, explains the Guinean events as a factor of the Russian-Chinese trade war. The Chinese would have supported Condé to obtain privileges, failing which they would have conspired with the military to depose him. Another variant instead attributes to the Russians the betrayal of the president, for his preferences towards the Chinese. There is also the version for which the U.S. would have intervened, to blow up the plans of the two contenders.

The Ukrainian site dsnews.ua recalls that under the presidency of Donald Trump, the Pentagon was tasked with weakening the influence of Russia and China in Africa. The European Union would have had the same purpose, especially after the 2019 elections. These goals would have been confirmed after the election of Joe Biden. Colonel Doumbouya is very close to France: from Moscow's perspective, he would be the executor of this plan of the West against the Russian-Chinese East, in a great international game on the skin of Africans.

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