Why is Russia wooing South Africa’s white farmers?

Leon du Toit slowly inhales the late summer breeze off fields belonging to a dairy farm not far from Moscow.

“Smells just like home,” the 72-year-old South African said.

That’s just what one Russian political figure hopes to hear.

He is leading something of a charm offensive in South Africa with a very particular goal: hoping to lure white South Africans to move almost 13,000km (8,000 miles) away to rural Russia.

The selling points are abundant farmland, relative safety and a country that holds tight to traditional Christian values.

What is not said – but clearly understood – is how this fits neatly into the identity politics of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The West may view Putin largely as a strategic and military adversary. Yet inside Russia, much of his support grows from…

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