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Russia Must Use Oil As Foreign Policy Tool - President's Envoy

File Photo of Mikhail Margelov
file photo
Moscow, 18 November: Russia's oil and gas policy should be not just an important part of the country's foreign policy but one of its main instruments, the Russian president's special envoy for Africa and head of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council Mikhail Margelov told Interfax today. According to Margelov, Russia's oil and gas resources and its favourable geographical position are one of the most important factors that help Russia to keep its influential position among the world's top players.

"Strengthening Russia's role in the global energy sector through energy production and transit means strengthening the country's foreign policy positions. With this in mind, Russia's oil and gas policy should be not just an important part of Russia's foreign policy but one of its main instruments," Margelov said.

Margelov said that, as a presidential special envoy, he has to look after Russia's interests in Africa a lot. Margelov mentioned the USA's military presence on this continent and said the USA ranked countries in Africa not only geopolitically but also according to their geo-economic importance. "The first group includes Arab counties in North Africa close to the Middle East, the second large African countries such as South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria and the like, and the third oil-producing countries in the Gulf of Guinea."

Analysing the situation, Margelov said that a real "cold war" is under way in Africa today between the USA and China, and China's expansionism is on par with the American. "However, China uses different methods. The USA can start a war, using NATO forces, but China is behaving carefully. On the governmental level, China even has the White Paper on trade and economic cooperation with Africa," Margelov said.

According to Margelov, China does not openly interfere into the internal affairs of African countries, but provides loans on concessional terms, without any commitments on spending, something which African leaders like very much.

"At the same time China urges Africa not to recognize Taiwan, and oil countries of the African continent easily break relations with the island in exchange for deals with the China National Petroleum Corporation," Margelov said.

He believes that in competition for oil China uses "soft power", while the USA tries to bolster its economic presence in Africa by military presence.

According to Margelov, the oil factor, and in a broader sense, the energy factor remains an important tool in international politics today. "Probably this is what is behind appeals to global control over resources which is close to the argument about erosion of state sovereignty," the Russian president's special envoy said.

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