“Rosafrica” and rebellious Latin America: Russian propaganda about the Global South

In the context of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Global South has become a special platform for the spread of anti-Ukrainian propaganda. Many of the countries in the region remain neutral or broadcast Russia’s position, which is reflected both through their positions in the UN and through political statements and initiatives of individual leaders. Read more about the sleeper narratives of Russian influence in the region regarding the “grain deal”, the role of Kyiv, and “racist” Europe in HWAG’s analysis.

One of the factors that ensure Russia’s support in the region is Russian information influence. But Russia’s strategy is designed for a much broader perspective than information dominance. In the coming months alone, two international events are planned – the BRICS summit and the Russia-Africa summit – which are expected to expand the format by inviting new countries and strengthen the Kremlin’s position by enhancing its image. Both of these factors seem to be designed with the purpose of working towards the establishment of a new world order.

As part of these ambitions, Russian information resources have long been conducting an information campaign to find ideologues, myths and narratives that should determine the information content of enhanced cooperation. This is why the term “Rosafrica” is appearing in the Russian information space, and the historical distortion of the USSR’s role is being used with renewed vigour. 

In this review, we analyse in detail the information campaigns unfolding in the Russian information space in the run-up to the BRICS and Russia-Africa summits, taking into account the previous EU-Latin America forum to consider the broader influence on the region from other actors.


When referring to the Global South in this paper, we are talking about the countries of Africa and Latin America, excluding China and other Asian countries.

The analysis examines Russia’s information space in the context of the BRICS Summit (22-24 August), the Russia-Africa Summit (27-28 July) and the EU-Latin America Summit (17-18 July) for manipulative messages aimed at influencing public opinion and steering international processes in the direction Russia so desires.

The search for information messages relevant to the topic was carried out using keywords on Russian online resources. The main focus was on news published between 3 and 19 July. 

After collecting the data, we sorted and filtered the data, conducted thematic analysis and identified links to current events, allowing us to draw a conclusion about the direction of Russia’s political interest in a particular context.

How Russian propaganda covered the EU-Latin America Summit

Recently, on 17-18 July, a two-day summit of the European Union and the Caribbean and Latin American countries was held in Brussels. As a result of the summit, the participating countries expressed “deep concern over the ongoing war in Ukraine”, with Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela refusing to condemn Russian aggression. 

The final declaration mentions two UN resolutions of 2022 and 2023, which condemned Russian aggression. Nicaragua voted “against” in 2023, having abstained in 2022. Russian information resources describe this event as a total failure for the West and an attempt to put pressure on Latin American countries, which they did not succumb to. 

Later, this keynote is transferred to the African context, as an example of the West’s “colonial” policy, while Russia is portrayed as the only equal partner.

For example:

1). Ukraine is not the only theatre of war;

2). The outcome of the Latin America summit was a blow to the US and a victory for Russia;

3). Latin America is unhappy with Europe: too much money for weapons to Ukraine;

4). The EU-Latin America summit was held under the sign of Russia;

5). Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: the world is tired of the conflict in Ukraine;

6). Zelenskyy was not allowed to go to Brussels. How Ukraine quarreled Latin America with Europe;

7). Lavrov: The West tried to promote anti-Russian texts at the EU-CELAC summit.

Based on the main narratives embedded in the headlines of the analysed materials published on Russian news sites, Russian propaganda has strengthened its position in the region by expanding the perception of conflicts, shifting attention from the issue of aggression against Ukraine to demonstrating its superiority over the United States (in particular, through the headline about “victory” over the United States during the summit), which may help strengthen Russia’s image position in the region due to the natural negative perception of the West. 

Russian propaganda also exploits and reinforces the emotional context of general distrust of Europe, claiming that money for weapons is wasted (while needy Africa remains without support). Such sentiments can further deepen misunderstandings between the regions and accumulate “frustration” at the political level.

Furthermore, Russian propaganda exploits officials’ positions (for example, the President of Brazil) to emphasise the idea that the war in Ukraine lacks global support and seeks to change the context of the conflict. In addition, the Ukrainian issue is portrayed as a divisive factor, which is allegedly the reason for the disputes between world leaders. 

This narrative is evident in the story that Ukraine has put Latin America at odds with Europe because of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plans to speak at the Forum. In this context, Russia also used diplomatic information channels. In particular, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that Western countries attempted to promote anti-Russian texts at the summit, which could be used to create the impression that Russia was under pressure and opposed to the anti-Russian campaign.

All of these headlines can be aimed at creating certain narratives and impressions that serve the interests of Russian propaganda, strengthening Russia’s role and pushing international events in the desired direction. 

Thus, Russia focuses most on creating the following information pretexts: 

1) expanding the horizons of conflict perception and dispersing attention;

2) demonising the US and promoting Russia’s dominant position in the region; 

3) Cultivating disbelief in the European Union as a partner.

What does Russian agitprop say about the BRICS summit?

This year’s BRICS summit will take place in South Africa on 22-24 August, where the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will meet. Due to an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian delegation will be headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa has said that despite the warrant, he is personally waiting for Putin. At the same time, Russia sees South Africa as one of the most important countries in Africa for further spreading its influence on the continent, and the BRICS format as an alternative to Western coalitions, including in the context of aggression against Ukraine.

1). Crashing into BRICS: How the EU failed in its attempts to win over Latin America;

2). The President of South Africa announced the creation of a new world order by the BRICS countries;

3). Many African countries consider BRICS as an alternative to “Western domination” and are looking forward to joining the bloc;

4). BRICS is turning from a Sino-Russian dream into an American nightmare;

5). Kyiv’s attempts to drive a wedge in Russia’s relations with the BRICS countries;

6). The West is looking for a weak link in BRICS;

7). Why was his absence at the BRICS summit allowed? (referring to the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin);

8). We moved between the cracks: Putin is not going to South Africa, and Africans have avoided a “war with Russia”;

9). An expert suggested that Argentina join the BRICS, despite the EU’s call;

10). South African President Ramaphosa called on peace-loving countries to influence the conflict in Ukraine.

The above-mentioned headlines with the narratives of the Russian campaign on the BRICS summit can be used for the following purposes: to exploit the contradictions between the EU and Latin America in order to deepen them and to cultivate Russia’s imaginary victory in this context by creating a contrast of perceptions. In addition, by promoting these narratives, Russia is shaping its information influence campaign to push the idea of a new world order. For this purpose, as in the previous block, statements by top politicians are used and messages on this subject are massively circulated, which creates the effect of totality and the impression of the BRICS’ ability to manage international processes in the future. Russian propaganda also creates an image of the BRICS as an alternative to the Western world, full of “racism”, in particular towards the countries of the Global South.

The Ukrainian factor is also used in the context of BRICS. Russian propaganda portrays Kyiv as seeking to undermine the BRICS countries’ relations with Russia and destabilise the bloc.

In the context of the BRICS summit, Russian propaganda focuses on creating the following information pretexts:

1) Creating the idea of the collapse of the EU due to “futile” attempts to influence Latin American countries.

2) The use of repetitive messages and narratives, as well as emotional vocabulary, indicates a weaker strategic understanding of communication in the BRICS context and Russia’s reliance on the ability to influence public opinion.

3) Russian propaganda tries to portray BRICS as a competitor to the ‘American world’ and emphasises its “alternative” character, trying to attract other countries to the bloc.

What does Russian agitprop say about the Russia-Africa summit?

On 27-28 July, the Russia-Africa forum will take place in St Petersburg, and, according to Russian media reports, about 50 African leaders have confirmed their participation. Russian experts are already developing roadmaps for relations with new “strategic partners” and promising them… grain.

1). Why Russia needs “Rusafrica”: the Valdai Club’s report on relations with the Black Continent was presented in Moscow

2). Peskov says Russia is ready to send grain to poor countries in Africa free of charge

3). “This is a call to Russia”: Africa turns away from former colonisers

4). How did the USSR help liberate Africa?

5). Why Russia and Africa need each other

6). How European racism closes Africa to the West and opens it up to Russia

7). Russia highly appreciates Africa’s rising role in the global political arena

The main directions of Russian propaganda’s information strategy in the context of the upcoming Russia-Africa summit can be defined as follows. Firstly, Russia is trying to emphasise that maintaining a dialogue with the African continent is in its strategic interests. 

The use of the term “Rusafrica” creates the impression of Russia’s deep and long-term interests in the region. Secondly, Russia is trying to present itself as a benefactor to Africa, promising free grain supplies, which at the same time discredits Ukraine as a supplier and diverts attention from Russia’s shelling of critical infrastructure and opposition to the continuation of the grain deal.

Russian propaganda also asserts that Africa is turning away from its former colonisers, which may contribute to the impression that Russia is the alternative to the West. To this end, Russia resorts to historical manipulations, portraying the USSR as the country that brought freedom to the African continent (reminiscent of the narrative of “statehood” brought by the USSR to the former Soviet republics).

Russia also actively cultivates the stereotype of “Western racism” in its information influences in the context of Africa to strengthen the emotional rejection of Western values and cooperation with the EU.

Thus, in a purely African context, Russian propaganda promotes the non-alternative nature of friendship between Russia and Africa through the conditionally positive experience of a “common past” and emphasises the prospect of further cooperation.

For “African” information campaigns, Russian agitprop actively creates new meanings and senses, resorts to historical manipulations and the use of emotionally negative appeals to the West.