Almost two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's ambitions and reach were still largely confined to its immediate periphery. Since 2014, however, when the illegal annexation of the Crimea overturned the post–Cold War security order, Russia's image on the world stage has started to go through a major transformation and its intervention in the Syrian civil war epitomises its renewed ambitions and abilities to play a major role in the broader Middle East.
In several regions around the world where its presence had not been felt since the time of the Cold War, Russia is now perceived as a serious actor. The Kremlin has to be credited with this accomplishment, even more so when one considers the relative scarcity of available resources when compared to those of the United States, the European Union or China.
Russia's course of action in Africa perfectly reflects this astute, low cost approach to global projection. In a continent where its activities were negligible for more than two decades, since mid-2000 Moscow has been able to establish and consistently expand a network of relationships, building on the remnants of Soviet era political, economic and military connections and exploiting the full spectrum of newly built tools in the information environment.