A Russian military delegation led by Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov arrived in Central African Republic on Friday, the mission’s third stop after Mali and Burkina Faso earlier this week.
Mercenaries from Russian private military contractor Wagner Group have operated in CAR since 2018, helping President Faustin Archange Touadera fight rebels and extending Russian influence in the mineral-rich nation. Wagner also owns some concessions there, including a gold mine.
Russia’s mounting influence across Africa has worried Western powers, whose own sway appears to have slipped in recent years amid a spate of coups.
New military leaders in Burkina Faso and Mali have shunned old alliances with former colonial power France, which had coincided with spikes in violence in both countries.
But the future of Wagner’s business and military operations in CAR and elsewhere in Africa is unclear since Wagner’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash in Russia last week.
Some security analysts say that the Russian state may now seek closer oversight of the organization.