In 2017, the United Nations decided to allow Russian coaches into the Central African Republic. Few knew then that the door had opened for Wagner. When the SVT visited the capital, Bangui, Wagner’s men were seen everywhere – armed, with their faces covered with scarves, and in cars without number plates.
– We love Wagner. They have given us peace, said the spokesman for President Touadera, Fidel Guandjica.
Few question the group’s effectiveness in fighting rebels in the Central African Republic, at least not in the short term. When the capital, Bangui, is threatened in 2021, Wagner is key to protecting the government.
Rich natural resources beckon
Wagner enters unstable countries, the West turned its back because of the military coups. Countries with rich natural resources attract.
In 2018, leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Meroe Gold company signed a mining deal in Sudan with wanted leader Omar al-Bashir in power.
In the same year, Wagner settled in the Central African Republic and violently seized the mines. In 2019, jihadists fought in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, but had to withdraw. It is the group’s biggest defeat in Africa. In 2021, Wagner entered Mali, which experienced its second military coup in less than a year.
Now there are rumors of white mercenaries in conflict-ridden eastern Congo, there is talk of Wagner’s pact with the Atlantic port of Cameroon and Ghana says Wagner was seen in the military coup in Burkina Faso.
Reports of abuse
Wagner may have been effective in his fields, but there are several reports of abuse. Supporting military dictatorships is a risky and short-term strategy.
In social media campaigns, anti-Western Russian propaganda is being pumped into African countries.
Resentment spreads over France’s colonial past and the country’s continued existence. The last French troops will leave the CAR in 2022.
– The Western powers are doing nothing good and only want to keep us poor. Wagner gets the job done, says Fidèle Gouandjika.
“Falls down a lot. Internet fanatic. Proud analyst. Creator. Wannabe music lover. Introvert. Tv aficionado.”