Members of the Tanzanian army look at a Kalashnikov 5.6mm sniper rifle manufactured by Russian company Rostec. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
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Russia is pursuing costly state oil and platinum projects in Africa despite an economic crisis at home, hoping they will bolster sales, including of arms, for businesses hit by Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine. Moscow has mostly focused on building ties with Asia since the U.S. and European Union sanctions came into force last year, but the Africa deals signal a desire to rebuild what was a big market for its weapons and technology during the Soviet era.Lower commodity prices mean non-government Russian investors in Africa in the early 2000s have mostly pulled out, but Rostec says it is on track to build a $4 billion oil refinery in Uganda and a $3-billion platinum project in Zimbabwe.The conglomerate, which controls hundreds of firms ranging from arms exporter Rosoboronexport to the world's top titanium producer VSMPO-Avisma, sees the projects as a door-opener in Africa, particularly to its fast-growing arms market.Russian development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), which is expected to provide finance for the project and is also under sanctions, only said a cooperation agreement had been signed by partners in the project.
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