Wagner Mutiny Africa : Wagner Group Mutiny In Russia Raises Questions On Group Operations In African Countries

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Moscow : Many observers in West and Central Africa followed the Wagner Group’s insurgency in Russia with keen interest. He is now eyeing the group’s large-scale operations on the continent of Africa. Since 2018, when the Wagner Group arrived in the Central African Republic (CAR) to fight insurgents, the armed group has spread its wings and later launched operations in Mali, Sudan and Libya. Wagner has become a lifeline for African governments grappling with growing domestic insecurity. Wagner helped CAR President Faustin-Archangel Toudera against rebel forces in 2018. Thereafter ‘Russian’ became the official language taught in the country’s schools and the Wagner leader became a respected figure in the capital Bangui.

Not only the group’s foreign activities, but also the bilateral relations between Russia and African countries are under threat since last week’s attempted rebellion by the Wagner Group. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that “hundreds of soldiers” would continue to serve in the CAR as “instructors” on government orders. Yabi Giles, founder of the West Africa Think Tank (WATHI), told Al Jazeera the comments were not a surprise.

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Gilles said, ‘Lavrov’s announcement was very clear. Wagner isn’t just a mercenary company. This is a company that is controlled by the Russian government and which is working in the interest of Russia, especially outside the country. He said it is important for Mali and the CAR to ensure that their cooperation with Russia continues. Other military options exist should Wagner be forced out of the continent as other private military contractors have started operating in Africa in recent years.

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Nevertheless, the uncertainty has raised concerns for governments dependent on Wagner’s security. “We’ve seen some tension among officials,” said Charles Boussell, CAR’s senior analyst for the International Crisis Group. This tension is because they do not know what will happen, whether Wagner will exist in the next few months or not. But Wagner’s rebellion against the Kremlin has alerted African governments as the group’s insurgency could unfold domestically.

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