NewsAfricaAfter the Prigojine rebellion, the Russian presence in Africa in question

    After the Prigojine rebellion, the Russian presence in Africa in question

    Two days after the Wagner rebellion, Sergueï Lavrov assured Monday that the paramilitary group will continue “its operations in Mali and in the Central African Republic”. An update from the head of Russian diplomacy who then intervened, the experts wondering about the future of this private militia, the spearhead of the new Russian expansionism in Africa.

    Will the crisis between Wagner and the Kremlin put an end to five years of Russian expansionism in Africa? After the abortive rebellion of Evgueni Prigojine, questions are multiplying around the presence of the private militia on the continent which, since 2018, has woven its web from Sudan to the Central African Republic, via Mali and Libya.

    Moscow wanted to be reassuring on Monday June 26, assuring that the “events” of last weekend will not change anything in the group’s activities on the continent. Wagner members work in Mali and the Central African Republic “as instructors. This work will of course continue”, Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the RT channel.

    © France 24

    Sergueï Lavrov also considered that the armed rebellion of the leader of Wagner, Evgueni Prigojine, and his men deployed in Ukraine was not going to change anything in the relations of Russia with its allies. “There have been many calls (from foreign partners) to President (Vladimir) Putin… to express words of support,” he said.

    Officially, no African capital has commented on the events of the past weekend. But according to Cyril Payen, senior reporter for France 24, Russia “probably appears to be a slightly less secure partner” since the Prigojine rebellion. “We can bet that in Bangui and Bamako, we wonder what the future will be.”

    Read Also:   the participation rate reaches 27.54%, according to provisional figures

    Read alsoRussia revives naval base project in Sudan

    “The Malian state is indeed today engaged in a double partnership, with the Russian state – the Putin camp – and with the Wagner group – the Prigojine camp. Which, until now, did not make much difference , but that could change if the two camps do not reconcile in the long term”, lawyer and political scientist Oumar Berte told RFI.

    Nested interests

    Questioned by AFP, a senior official of the Central African presidency indicates however that Russia will continue to operate in the Central African Republic, with or without Wagner. “The Central African Republic signed (in 2018, editor’s note) a defense agreement with the Russian Federation, and not with Wagner,” said Fidèle Gouandjika, minister special adviser to Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadera. “Russia has subcontracted with Wagner. If Russia no longer agrees with Wagner, then they will send us a new contingent.”

    A bridgehead for Russian ambitions on the continent, the Central African Republic is particularly dependent on the Russian militia whose men go so far as to serve as the personal protection of President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

    Present since 2021 in Mali where Wagner has around 1,500 men, the paramilitary group has also forged close relations with the ruling junta, participating in the training of soldiers as well as in operations to fight against terrorist groups.

    In Africa, the men of Prigojine have also been identified in Libya, Sudan or Mozambique. Since Wagner’s arrival in Africa, the paramilitary group has been regularly accused by the UN, international NGOs and Paris of committing abuses and crimes against civilians.

    Read Also:   Liberia: A fire burns and kills 23 students near the city of Monrovia

    Read alsoIn Mali, the French army claims to have filmed Russian mercenaries burying bodies

    To advance its pawns, the private militia deploys the same strategy each time: disinformation campaigns surfing on the rejection of the former colonial powers and a security offer in exchange for the exploitation of natural resources which will feed the war chest of Prigojine and serve the interests of the Kremlin.

    In Sudan, the partnership between Wagner and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by the number two of the junta, General Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, has thus enabled the militia to feed off illegal gold trafficking, but also to organize the routing of the yellow metal directly to the coffers of the Russian state, helping to inflate its gold reserves to circumvent Western sanctions.

    “Wagner is an entity that both defends private, even criminal, interests and promotes the interests of the Russian state. The two are inextricably linked,” summarizes Niagale Bagayoko, president of the African Security Sector Network research center, on the branch of France 24.

    “A Kremlin Creature”

    “The tensions with the Kremlin arose on the Ukrainian front, not in Africa where, on the contrary, there is an alignment of the interests of Wagner and Russian power”, confirms Thierry Vircoulon, researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri) and specialist in Africa. “The paramilitary group is a strategic asset for Russia and it would be inappropriate to interrupt its activities when it has been the main tool of its diplomacy”.

    If Russia cannot do without Wagner, the reverse is also true. “Since its creation, Wagner has been a creature of the GRU [le service du renseignement militaire russe] and the Kremlin and benefited from the logistical, political and financial support of the Russian state”, continues the expert.

    Read Also:   Mali: the ruling junta "demands" Macron to put an end to "his neocolonial posture" and "condescending"

    If the eviction of Wagner does not therefore seem an option today, a recalibration of its activities seems inevitable. According to Thierry Vircoulon, several scenarios could be envisaged, in particular the splitting of the group’s operations. “If Prigozhin remains in the landscape, one could imagine that he is only in charge of external operations and that he is evacuated from the internal front, that is to say from the Ukrainian conflict”.

    See alsoWagner’s aborted rebellion: proof of the fragility of the Russian regime?

    Another possibility: an absorption of Wagner by the Russian Defense Ministry, which recently announced its desire to sign a contract with all the private militias. A way to regain control over the African activities of the militia.

    On the side of Western chancelleries, we observe recent events and their geopolitical implications with caution. “These events raise many questions and we must remain cautious. There are many gray areas. But they show cracks, fractures, flaws within the Russian system”, explained French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

    Evgueni Prigojine came out of his silence Monday in an audio message, claiming to have never intended to overthrow power. He did not reveal his whereabouts, while the Kremlin assured that he would leave for Belarus. Russian news agencies have all announced that the criminal investigation targeting him for “calling for armed mutiny” was still ongoing.

    Source: France 24

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    nineteen + 10 =

    Subscribe & Get Latest News