In each of the press statements issued as part of President Ramaphosa’s diplomatic initiative to Moscow and Kiyv, there is reference to the role of the London based “Brazzaville Foundation” as the organizer of the “peace” initiative.
The Brazzaville Foundation is registered as a charity in London and led by the shadowy French businessman Jean Yves Ollivier. The Foundation was originally created by the disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger and until April 2023 led by Charles Carr, a controversial private investigator in London who is reported by Intelligence Online to represent multiple Russian oligarchs as clients. The Royal Patron of the Foundation, Prince Michael of Kent, received the Order of Friendship Award from the Kremlin.
On the Brazzaville Foundation website there are photos of recent meetings between Ollivier and Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s Special Envoy for Africa and the Middle East. Ollivier also informed Reuters that he is coordinating his African initiative closely with Beijing’s own diplomatic initiative led by Li Hui on the invasion of the Ukraine.
Ollivier’s business interest is closely tied to largesse from the Russian and Chinese states and their security apparatus. Ollivier is the self acknowledged deal maker for Russia’s state owned nuclear company, Rosatom, in Africa, having previously represented the interest of the French nuclear company Areva.
Rosatom, the state-owned Russian nuclear company, is “currently working with more than 15 sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and others; as well as with the following North African countries: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco,” according to Ryan Collyer, acting CEO of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa.
Ollivier played a crucial role in brokering Rosatom’s flag ship project in Africa, the El Daaba nuclear plant in Egypt, at a cost exceeding $30 billion and brokering the recent addition of a second unit that was permitted for Rosatom on 29 March.
Ollivier has represented Rosatom projects to each of the African Governments he has invited to join his “peace initiative.” As one nuclear executive remarked, the African delegation to Moscow and Kiyv consists of some of Rosatom’s leading clients in Africa.
The Rosatom file in Africa is held by Russian Military Intelligence, or Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie (GRU). The GRU is the Russian intelligence agency that coordinates Russia’s clandestine arms sales worldwide, including to African governments. The GRU coordinated the delivery of weapons on the Lady R to South African Special Forces in December 2022 in Simonstown, the South African Navy base. Russian Special Forces, or Spetsnaz, is a division of the GRU.
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Ollivier not only confirmed that he represents the nuclear interest of Russia in Africa, but also claims that he is now leading a new joint venture between Rosatom and the Atomic Energy Agency of China to market the export of nuclear technology jointly to developing countries.
The pooling of research and the coordination of the nuclear energy is at the core of the new alliance that Xi and Putin are forging. During Xi’s visit to Moscow in March, the Kremlin and the Chinese Communist Party signed “a long-term cooperation program” that according to Rosatom’s press statement “involves cooperation over the decades ahead and establishment of the nuclear power engineering development vectors at the global level.”
Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, has confirmed that it will deliver highly enriched uranium to two Chinese fast-neutron reactors during the next three years.
The fuel will be exported by TVEL, a Rosatom affiliate, to China for use in the CFR-600 power plant in the province of Fujian in the country’s southeast, according to a South China Morning Post’s (SCMP).
In an unprecedented recent letter to the senior national security officials in the Biden Administration, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Intelligence and Armed Services Committees wrote; “Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, is helping the People’s Republic of China (PRC) acquire enough weapons grade plutonium to fuel its strategic nuclear breakout. Beyond fueling the PRC’s strategic nuclear breakout, which in 2021 then-U.S. Strategic Command commander Admiral Charles Richard called “breathtaking,” Rosatom helps fuel Putin’s war efforts in Ukraine. We call on the Administration to view this cooperation for what it is, a direct threat to U.S. security and more evidence that Russia and China are working in tandem against the United States. The Administration should use all tools at its disposal to stop Rosatom and the PRC’s dangerous cooperation.”
It is not clear how Ramaphosa’s initiative with Rosatom and the Atomic Energy Agency of China as sponsors will bring peace either to the Ukraine or to Africa.