This commentary proposes to connect Russia’s present activities in Africa to the history of Soviet involvement on the continent during the Cold War. While post-Soviet Russia pursues very difficult foreign policy objectives in its relations with African states, in doing so it often draws on the relationships, partnerships, and formal and informal networks forged during the Cold War. An enduring continuity can be observed in Russia’s ongoing efforts to present itself as an alternative to the West. In the past, the Soviet model of development tended to emphasize socialist modernization. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has abandoned its promotion of socialism to pursue crude economic interests via its business elite, based on values that appear to be in stark contrast to the conventions of Western liberalism.