Wagner’s Blowback to Russia in Africa?


It was a fortnight ago when the world was stunned by the abortive Putsch launched by the Wagner Group inside Russia. After a quick march that almost made it to Moscow was abruptly halted after a deal was brokered that pact has left more questions regarding the Status of Wagner.

We know that an estimated 8,000 members will now be housed in Belarus. They will be in a position whereupon a quick march on Kyiv could potentially occur. While other fighters have signed contracts to formally become members of the Russian Ministry of Defense. How these men both of those in Belarus and those who signed on with the MOD will be used is a matter of some conjecture.

One of the major issues that has not been adequately explained is what will happen to Wagner Operations in Africa. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that no change is to be expected however some high profile events have taken place that will not remove any scrutiny regarding this topic.

The first update regards Mali. On June 30th the UN Security Council voted not to renew the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali. Therefore this operation will wrap up around December 31st. At that time the main security partner for the junta in Bamako will in fact be Wagner. What happens if the security climate does not improve after the withdrawal of the UN? Such a tantalizing question to ask and to contemplate this scenario as it plays out.

The Central African Republic will be another country to watch although for different reasons. The first reason is whether or not President Toudara will seek a third term in office in contravention of the Constitution. Wagner has been providing support for the government for several years now and if the President decides to seek another term and wins then the presence in the Country will continue. The second concern is the deterioration of Sudan. There has been allegations that Wagner has close ties with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which evolved from the Janjaweed Militias from the Darfur Conflict.

Darfur is currently a battlefield in the Sudan Conflict with some reports indicating that battles have taken places in bases along the border between Sudan and the Central African Republic. There have not been any reports of any Wagner units being involved in this area of conflict despite the proximity of Wagner but an intervention by Wagner should not be ruled out either.

Finally there is Libya. Over the weekend of June 25th an interesting event took place in the east. A Wagner facility was the target of a UAV Strike. No Casualties were reported in the incident. However both the Government of National Unity in Tripoli and the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) have issued press releases stating that neither party launched the strike. That narrows down the list of perpetrators to a few nations such as Turkey the UAE and France that are known to use the platforms in the region.

Some entities prefer to operate in the murkiness as it provides cover for their sources and methods. For the near future what Wagner does in Africa will have to be more carefully scrutinized as the question of whether or not these actions will benefit Russia will have to be asked. The answer when it’s provided will be the source of great angst in Washington , Brussels and Addis. But in the meantime it appears that it is a rocky road that we will be travelling on.


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Specialist in US Policy (Security, Assymetrical Operations and Business Development) towards Africa and Arab World (Washington DC – USA)

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