Moscow (AsiaNews) - For three years now, Russia has been seeking alternatives to isolation by the West following the invasion of Ukraine, throwing itself into the embrace of the worst rogue countries in the world, which share the Russian regime of international sanctions, of which Moscow is now by far the record holder.

Now it is Eritrea's turn, one of the countries where the activity of the late Yevgeny Prigožin's Wagner company developed most intensely, whose comrades continue the work begun years ago.

The Eritrean president, Isaias Afewerki, is certainly no less than Vladimir Putin in terms of human rights violations and the use of the most diverse forms of slavery as a government program, having led the country for over thirty years.

In the voting on the UN resolutions on Ukraine, Eritrea convincingly sided with Russia in the company of its loyalists, Belarus and North Korea, sometimes even China. Already in March 2022, representatives of Asmara were the only ones to oppose, together with Moscow, against the formation of a commission to investigate Russian crimes in Ukraine.

The political scientist Aleksandra Fokina tried on Novaya Evropa to clarify the reasons why one of the poorest states in Africa and the entire world is so blatantly pro-Russian. At first glance, in fact, there are no particular relationships either from a political or economic point of view that can explain this great friendship, which for over a decade has been expressed in increasingly intense and total ways. Eritrea was the first country to send its high-ranking officials to officially visit Russian-occupied Crimea, in June 2014, not even three months after the farce annexation referendum.

Leading the delegation was the former ambassador of Asmara in Ukraine, Teklaja Minassiè Asgedoma, who in 2014 had moved to the role of representative in Russia, and then participated in the IV international economic forum in Yalta in 2018 and concluded an agreement between Sevastopol and Massawa, the most important port in Eritrea.

In May 2023 Afewerki then made his first visit to Moscow to meet Putin, giving a long speech on the score of the most genuine Russian propaganda. The Eritrean president criticized "the crazy ideology and unstoppable actions of the West, which over the last 30 years has only sought domination and the creation of a unipolar world order."

Economic agreements between Russia and Eritrea grow exponentially from year to year, from 427 thousand dollars to 9.3 million in 2021, up to the current 15 million dollars. This is certainly not a primary market for Moscow, which counts on its main partners for several billions, but since last year the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has promised to satisfy all Eritrean requests in the military field, with the delivery of Ural and KamAz tanks, and certainly also beyond the sphere of transport.

A monument to the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was recently erected in the center of Asmara, whose vague African origins are remembered by the ancestor known as "the black of Peter the Great", disputes between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

After the times of the Cold War, in which Ethiopia and Eritrea had ended up under the control of the Soviet bloc, Eritrea seemed to be headed towards a course of liberal and pro-American transformation, representing a barrier to the spread of terrorism in the region. But since 1998 Afewerki, with the invasion of Djibouti, has achieved the "turn to the East", establishing an authoritarian regime that is increasingly in conflict with the Western powers.

For the Russians "it was like a wedding invitation", says Fokina, especially due to the Eritrean tendency to participate in every type of conflict, causing a mass flight of the population: today 20% of Eritreans live abroad, and in Many country were recruited by Wagner's mercenaries.

Furthermore, military service is compulsory in Eritrea from the age of 18 to 40, for both men and women, a form of slavery much appreciated by the Russians, in a country with strategic ports on the Red Sea, one of the decisive areas of the world conflict in progress