On December 21, the authorities of the Central African Republic said to a number of foreign media outlets that, according to bilateral security agreements, Russia and Rwanda have sent there additional “several hundred troops and heavy weapons.” This is caused by the intensification of clashes in recent weeks between government forces and units of various insurgents, who have united and formed a coalition to prevent the re-election of incumbent President Faustin-Archange Touadera for a second term. François Bozize, his main opponent, was not admitted to the elections by the decision of the Constitutional Court, which gave rise to the activation of the rebels.
It is worth mentioning that Bozize lost his post as president in 2013, however he managed to gather various opposing organizations around him, from the jihadists of the Seleka group to the Christian militias.
The elections were held on December 27, and according to the local election commission, the turnout was high. The result will be announced no earlier than on January 4th, however the current president is considered to be a favorite.
However, the elections themselves were at risk since the rebels had captured the strategically important city of Mbaiki, 80 kilometers from the state capital Bangui, a week earlier. In the fighting for the city they were opposed by mercenaries of the Russian PMC Wagner which joined the government troops. The first took an active part in the battles since their main base in the country is located nearby – the Berengo mansion, the former residence of the cannibal dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa.
Although the activities of the Russian mercenaries in the country were also mentioned earlier. For example, in the summer of 2018, Russian journalists Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Kirill Radchenko from the opposition Investigation Management Center were killed.
They visited the republic to produce a film about PMC “Wagner” and their activities in the country. According to Le Figaro, members of Russian PMCs are guarding the current President Touadera, while Russian military instructors are training the CAR troops.
It is believed that the main beneficiary of the activities of PMC “Wagner” is the Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is within the close circle of President Vladimir Putin. In the CAR, Prigozhin’s organisations are engaged in gemstone mining and show an interest in gold mines and the woodworking business.
However, apparently the Russian mercenaries no longer cope with the tasks on protection of both the assets of the Russian oligarchs and the President of the African country. To this end, the Russian authorities so easily agreed to send additional forces of active servicemen to the CAR, supposedly with a peacekeeping mission.
However, the peacekeeper status does not guarantee security for a foreign military. During the last week only, three peacekeepers were killed and several were wounded in the country as a result of the clashes. Well the citizen’s sacrifice is too little price for the Russian leadership to change their mind when it comes to profit and geopolitical influence.