Wagner Group’s campaigns in Africa will only get worse

Wagner Group’s campaigns in Africa will only get worse

Briefly: Rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) inflicted significant losses on Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group in the ongoing battle for control of mineral-rich regions in the country.

The Wagner Group, the infamous private military company on the frontlines of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has been a fixture in CAR since the government hired them in 2018 to defeat a years-long insurgency. But as one of the world’s poorest countries, CAR has offered to pay mercenaries with captured resources – think gold and diamonds – instead of cash.

Although mercenaries are illegal in Russia, Wagner formally registered as a Russian company last year, and even opened an office in St Petersburg. It has been accused of using increasingly brutal tactics in CAR as its momentum in the country has slowed.

Intrigue’s take: This won’t end well. Expert Colin Clarke sums it up perfectly (if alarmingly): “[T]he Wagner Group has acted in a predatory manner, siphoning resources in exchange for security. Once the resources and minerals are depleted, Russia will withdraw, leaving behind a volatile region that could develop into a safe haven and sanctuary for [militants].”

Also worth noting:

  • Neighbouring Chad and Sudan agreed last month to join Wagner and the CAR to fight rebels near their shared borders.
  • On Tuesday (31 January), UN human rights experts claimed that the Wagner Group has committed war crimes during its ongoing campaign in Mali.