running story
Security, Moscow's way into Africa
A member of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner (left) and a UN forces soldier at an election rally for Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in Bangui, 12 December 2020. © André Bâ/Xinhua News Agency/Newscom/MaxPPP
AFRICA

Security, Moscow's way into Africa

Russia's influence on the continent is spreading in step with rising instability in many African countries and tensions between France and many of its former colonies. This trend is bolstered by the presence of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group close to Vladimir Putin. Its mercenaries have intervened in Libya and Mozambique and are now offering their services in West and Central Africa. Driven by the Kremlin, Russia's security breakthrough in Africa is also backed by the defence ministry, serving Moscow's geopolitical interests, and paving the way for Russia to move into other fields on the continent.

A member of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner (left) and a UN forces soldier at an election rally for Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in Bangui, 12 December 2020. © André Bâ/Xinhua News Agency/Newscom/MaxPPP
MALI Diplomacy 30/05/2022
A UN Security Council meeting on 7 April 2022, discussing the Moura massacre in Mali.
A UN Security Council meeting on 7 April 2022, discussing the Moura massacre in Mali. © Norway MFA/Twitter

Moura massacre: the explosive UN report 

The UN's OHCHR is shortly due to hand over its investigation on the killings that took place in the village of Moura in central Mali in March to the body's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The document points the finger at Mali's Armed Forces and Russia's Wagner group, and could have repercussions on the UN's presence in Mali. [...]

Left: The meeting between Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mahamat Idriss Déby on 31 March. Right: Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
Left: The meeting between Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mahamat Idriss Déby on 31 March. Right: Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. © Presidence.td - @GeneralDagllo/Twitter

Unease in Khartoum and N'Djamena as Kaka, Hemeti and Wagner dance a three-step 

Domestic political agendas are in the process of remodelling the regional balance of power between Sudan and Chad while, in the neighbouring Central African Republic, the role of Wagner, which is an ally of Sudan but hostile to Chad, is raising questions. [...]

MALI EUROPEAN UNION Diplomacy 21/01/2022
The Malian file was also raised during the gathering of the 27 European defence ministers in Brest on 12 and 13 January
The Malian file was also raised during the gathering of the 27 European defence ministers in Brest on 12 and 13 January © Josep Borrell/Twitter

As Wagner arrives, EU prepares sanctions but keeps channels open with junta 

Following the lead of ECOWAS, the EU is gearing up to impose sanctions on the regime in Bamako, which has postponed the presidential election and welcomed Russian paramilitaries from Wagner onto Malian soil. The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell is due to hold a virtual meeting with the foreign ministers of the G5 Sahel countries on 26 January to discuss the situation in Mali. [...]

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov with President Vladimir Putin.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov with President Vladimir Putin. © Sergei Chirikov/Pool/EFE/Newscom/MaxPPP

Moscow appoints new envoy as Wagner reorganises its mercenaries 

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is about to appoint a new ambassador to Bangui after six months of dithering. The Russian paramilitary group Wagner is meanwhile reorganising itself in the Central African Republic under the leadership of Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dimitri Utkin, who have both been in Bangui in recent months. [...]

SpotlightAFRICA 17/12/2021
Russia's president Vladimir Putin stands next to Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa during the Africa-Russia summit 2019 in Sochi.
Russia's president Vladimir Putin stands next to Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa during the Africa-Russia summit 2019 in Sochi. © Sergei Chirikov/POOL/EPA/Newscom/MaxPPP

Russia opts for Saint Petersburg as summit venue in face of African squabbling 

The rivalries among African nations have prompted Moscow to give up on the idea of holding the Africa-Russia gathering on the African continent and go with Saint Petersburg instead in November 2022. [...]

Central African livestock minister Hassan Bouba in February 2021.
Central African livestock minister Hassan Bouba in February 2021. © La France à Bangui/Twitter

Touadéra and Moscow protect warlord Hassan Bouba from international justice 

By targeting one of the emblematic figures of the Central African Republic conflict - livestock minister and former rebel leader Hassan Bouba - the Bangui special criminal court has thrown a spanner into an already uneasy mix of peace deals, jittery financial backers and Russian mercenaries. [...]

Focus AFRICA RUSSIA Diplomacy 29/11/2021
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia. © Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS

Patriarch Kirill, the pugnacious emissary of Russian diplomacy in Africa 

The Putin-friendly patriarch of Moscow severed ties with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine when Russia invaded Ukraine's Donbass region and the impact of this break-up is now rippling across Africa, where the head of the Russian Orthodox Church is trying, again in step with Moscow, to outstrip the Patriarch of Alexandria. [...]

Alexander Ivanov (centre, holding a document), representative of Wagner instructors in the Central African Republic, was received at the Central African National Assembly on 15 October 2021.
Alexander Ivanov (centre, holding a document), representative of Wagner instructors in the Central African Republic, was received at the Central African National Assembly on 15 October 2021. © Communauté des Officiers pour la Sécurité internationale (Cosi)/Twitter

Wagner's parallel diplomacy embarrasses Moscow 

Active in the military and media fields, the private security firm Wagner has been courting publicity in a way that is jarring with the reserve of Russian diplomats in recent weeks and the messages coming out of official channels in Moscow. [...]

MALI Defence Diplomacy 06/10/2021
French foreign minister Yves Le Drian at the UN General Assembly on 23 September.
French foreign minister Yves Le Drian at the UN General Assembly on 23 September. © John Minchillo/EPA/Pool/MaxPPP

From Washington to Algiers, Paris manoeuvres behind the scenes to keep Wagner out of Mali 

Discreetly but insistently, France is working with its Western and African partners to prevent the junta going into partnership with Russian paramilitary group Wagner. Meanwhile, ECOWAS, egged on by Macron, is considering slapping sanctions on Mali's new leaders. [...]

Central African President Faustin Archange Touadéra at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 21 September 2021.
Central African President Faustin Archange Touadéra at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 21 September 2021. © Mary Altaffer/EPA/Pool/MaxPPP

Touadéra wants to reengage with Paris 

Worried about the spectacular demise of Central African Republic's diplomatic relations with France, the head of state is seeking fresh communication channels. After a first attempt at mediation in Kinshasa, he is considering appointing a new ambassador to France. [...]

The then Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, Firmin Ngrebada (centre), salutes his troops as a Russian-made support helicopter flies overhead on the road between Boali and Bangui on 10 January 2021.
The then Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, Firmin Ngrebada (centre), salutes his troops as a Russian-made support helicopter flies overhead on the road between Boali and Bangui on 10 January 2021. © Florent Vergnes/AFP

Bolloré, TotalEnergies and Air France held hostage in Franco-Russian power struggle 

As France downgrades its relations with the Central African Republic (CAR), which it sees as too much under Russian influence, the authorities there are exerting pressure on French companies still active in the country. [...]

Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the 2019 Russia-Africa summit in Sochi.
Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the 2019 Russia-Africa summit in Sochi. © Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool/EPA/Newscom/MaxPPP

Russia's presence further widens wedge in Paris-Bangui axis 

Cuts to French aid, a freeze on military cooperation... relations between Paris and Bangui continue to cool. France suspects several of Touadéra's close advisors of waging anti-French campaigns while Russia is not far from the picture. [...]

SpotlightRUSSIA LIBYA Defence Diplomacy 20/08/2020
The Sharara oil field, near the town of Ubar. Wagner has a detachment located three kilometers away from this strategic production asset, held by militias that have pledged allegiance to Haftar.
The Sharara oil field, near the town of Ubar. Wagner has a detachment located three kilometers away from this strategic production asset, held by militias that have pledged allegiance to Haftar. © REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Russian paramilitary group Wagner expands southern Libyan presence 

Since the beginning of July, Wagner Group personnel have been beefing up Russia's presence in southwestern Libya, a few kilometres from oil fields held by militias affiliated with General Khalifa Haftar. [...]

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