BERLIN — As news spread throughout the Central African Republic (CAR) on Saturday that thousands of mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Corporation had begun marching to Moscow in a mutiny led by their boss Yevgeny Prigozhin Leaders, cabinet members of this unsettled African nation became very upset and According to a senior government official who spoke to The Daily Beast, they started calling each other nervously.
The CAR government has a very close relationship with the Wagner Group, which has built a spider web of military and economic ties over the past five years in several African countries, including Libya, Sudan and Mali.
At CAR alone, Russia—in the past five years—sends weapons and hundreds of military advisers and Wagner mercenaries as an extension of the government’s security forces. The Wagner fighter was scary locals And target citizens protesting private military companyits presence, while simultaneously exploiting the country’s mineral resources.
But Prigozhin’s decision to appear to turn his back on his former ally, Russian president Vladimir Putin, has bewildered those who benefited from Wagner’s operations in Africa.
“Yes, there are mercenaries Wagner [in CAR] and everyone is worried that the confrontation between Putin and Prigozhin will end their activity in our country,” an adviser to CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra said in a private conversation with The Daily. Beast over the phone. “The Russians play a very important role in the security structure of our country and if they were forced to withdraw completely, things could get messy.”
According to the government adviser, the longer the mutiny dragged on, the more worried CAR officials became. When reports emerged that Prigozhin and his army had captured Rostov-on-Don—a southern Russian city that served as an important logistics hub supporting Putin’s ongoing war in Ukraine —and continuing to march toward Moscow, CAR government officials began to fear that Russia could descend into a civil war, which could affect the support the African nation received from the Kremlin via Wagner.
“Everybody is afraid that if war breaks out in Russia, the Russians [in CAR] Not only will we be forced to return home, but our political, military and business ties with Russia will be suspended,” he said. “The last thing is the government [in CAR] want to see at the moment the departure of Russia from the country.”
When news broke late Saturday that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had reached an agreement with Prigozhin to stop the coup and take refuge in Belarus, government officials in CAR were eager to know what would happen. happened to Wagner’s activities in the country, a senior military official said. The Daily Beast in another private phone conversation.
“Cabinet members called both [CAR] Russian military officer and military instructor [present in CAR] to find out if they have received any information about Russia’s role in the country in the future,” said an official working at CAR military headquarters in the capital Bangui. “But no one, not even the Russian instructors here [in CAR]has any information regarding that.
Wagner’s influence on governance at CAR is enormous. At some point, a former Russian military intelligence officer, Valery Zakharov, served as a national security adviser to the president, and a shell company called Diamville not only forcing the poor miners and collectors of CAR transfer their gems or just sell them to the company that is owned by Wagner, but also plays an important role in mining regulations in the country.
The coup plot in Russia may have been foiled, albeit temporarily, but the blatant nature of the attack against the Russian state could have major consequences for Wagner’s activities in Africa. . And, as uncertainty continues, those who benefit from the group’s presence on the continent remain nervous.
“Have you heard anything about where Yevgeny Prigozhin is?” CAR government adviser, sounding concerned, called The Daily Beast on Sunday morning to ask. “We just don’t know what’s going on.”