Russia's Growing Footprint in Africa's Sahel Region
February 28, 2023
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Over the past year, Russia has doubled down its focus on Africa's Sahel region. Through the Wagner Group, Moscow is inserting itself in countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso and is taking advantage of Western policy missteps, growing anti-European sentiment, and longstanding failures of international and local actors to address the root causes of regional instability. Russian presence in the Sahel delivers good publicity that undermines Western attempts to isolate Russia. However, actors such as Wagner often exploit regional instability in ways which usually worsen the security situation for civilians and, in turn, harm Russia's international reputation.
EU Imposes Additional Sanctions on Wagner Group for 'Rights Abuses' in Africa
February 26, 2023
According to the report, the European Union has imposed additional sanctions on the Wagner Group because of its human rights abuses in Africa. Individuals and entities with ties to the Wagner Group had their assets frozen and a travel ban was issued against them. The report mentions that two individuals with connection to the war in Ukraine have also been sanctioned.
Russian Mercenaries, Rebels Clash Over CAR Gold Mines
February 21, 2023
The report mentions that Wagner Group mercenaries and rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) are having conflict over access to the countries mines. According to the report, rebels confiscate military equipment from the mercenaries when they defeat them. The report estimates that there are about 1,000 Wagner mercenaries in CAR. Wagner Group mercenaries have been accused of killing civilians over CAR's mineral resources and are seen by the rebel groups as stealing the country's resources.
Wagner Leader Generated $250mn From Sanctioned Empire
February 20, 2023
According to the report, Yevgeny Prigozhin's Wagner Group generated a quarter of a billion dollars in the four years preceding Russia's invasion of Ukraine, despite Western sanctions against him. The revenues were obtained from "oil, gas, diamond, and gold extraction." The report also adds that Wagner Group has been accused of "human rights abuses including murder, torture and rape in almost every country it has operated in."
Mercenary Shocks: What the War in Ukraine Will Eventually Mean for Africa
February 17, 2023
War on the Rocks
The length and severity of the war in Ukraine will determine the volume of the mercenary influx in Africa. If the war in Ukraine continues for a significant period, particularly as both sides continue to sustain high casualty rates, the number of potential recruits for post-conflict mercenary could be diminished. If the conflict ends more quickly, regardless of the victor, former soldiers on both sides will be interested in mercenary work. Alternatively, if the war returns to pre-2022 levels of low intensity "frozen conflict," new African deployments would also be on the horizon. Expanded mercenary deployments will aggravate the recent pattern of political instability in Africa.
Russia’s Wagner Deepens Influence in Africa, Helping Putin Project Power
February 13, 2023
The Wall Street Journal
The article discusses the Wagner Group and its growing alliances in Africa. The article reports that Russia is using the Wagner Group to project power and raise revenues abroad. The Wagner Group is believed to have 5,000 mercenaries in Africa, a footprint "almost as large as the U.S.'s 6,000 troops and support personnel" in Africa. The article mentions malign Wagner Group activities on the continent such as exploiting natural resources, creating instability, committing mass killings, and recruiting fighters for the group. Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group believes it is "absolutely necessary" for Wagner Group mercenaries to remain in Africa as some countries would "cease to exist" if he withdraws his mercenaries.
Burkina Faso Denies Paying Russian Mercenaries with Gold Mine Rights Granted to Nordgold
February 06, 2023
The North Africa Post
Burkina Faso has denied claims that it awarded a mining permit to Nordgold due to its status as a Russian company, its mines minister told the media on February 5, denying Western concerns that the ruling junta is seeking closer ties with Moscow. The military junta, which took power in September 2022, granted a gold mining permit to Nordgold in December. Nordgold operates the Bissa and Bouly mines in Burkina Faso, and it also owns the Tarparko mine, which it shut down in April 2022 due to security risks. Burkina Faso has denied paying Russian mercenaries by giving them rights to a mine but has not formally denied the allegation that it has made an agreement with Wagner.
For Africa and Putin: A New Pro-Russian and Anti-French Social Media Campaign Has Been Identified (За Африку и Путина: обнаружена новая пророссийская и антифранцузская кампания в соцсетях)
February 01, 2023
BBC News Russian
The article discusses a large-scale social media campaign aimed at promoting Russia and discrediting Ukraine in the French-speaking countries of Africa. The campaign is titled Russosphère (the "Russian sphere"). It accuses France and the West of colonialism and Russophobia, glorifies PMC Wagner and publishes information about its recruitment.