From Russia with Guns: Burkina Faso’s New Defense Strategy


Burkina Faso, a nation embroiled in deadly conflict and political upheaval, is seeking solace in an old Cold War ally—Russia. The West African country, under military rule since a 2022 coup, is intensifying its military cooperation with Russia, marking a significant pivot in its defense strategy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during his recent visit to Ouagadougou,  plans to increase the number of Russian military instructors in Burkina Faso.

“Russian instructors are working here, and their number will increase; at the same time, we are training members of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies of Burkina Faso in the Russian Federation,”


This move signals a robust commitment from Russia to bolster Burkina Faso’s defense amidst ongoing violence and instability.

Burkina Faso’s internal strife has seen a tragic rise in violence-related deaths. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that the country has been named the world’s most neglected displacement crisis for the second consecutive year. In 2024 alone, hundreds of civilians have been killed, with 6.3 million people needing humanitarian assistance and over two million internally displaced  .

Amidst this turmoil, Russia’s involvement is not merely altruistic. The nation, isolated due to its invasion of Ukraine, is aggressively renewing its foothold in Africa. The US Africa Command has repeatedly warned that both Russia and China are working to expand their influence on the continent. Russia’s strategy involves deploying mercenaries and selling arms to gain access to Africa’s rich natural resources  .

Lavrov’s visit also underscored a diplomatic victory for Russia, as he thanked Burkinabe leaders for facilitating the resumption of Russian embassy activities in Ouagadougou.

“We are implementing a program to resume the activities of Russian diplomatic missions in Africa. Burkina Faso was the first country to do this quickly and effectively,”

Lavrov noted.

While Burkina Faso’s junta, led by acting President Ibrahim Traoré, prioritizes security, the implications of deeper ties with Russia remain to be seen. With a history of foreign influence often leading to exploitation, the Burkinabe people are left to hope that this partnership will provide the stability they desperately need rather than deepen their plight.


Leave a Reply