Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 31 January 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Will France Be Replaced by Russia in Another African Country?
The new military junta in Burkina Faso is making effort to team up with Russia, a sign that Russia is becoming a major player in Africa after the Central African Republic and Mali. Possibly, Wagner Group, a shadowy paramilitary group, will serve a key role in Burkina Faso – as it already has in the two African states.
Military-ruled Burkina Faso suspends accord with France, and orders troops to leave within a month. Burkina Faso suffered its second military coup d’état last year, and the streets have seen Russian flags waving and anti-French slogans. It is not surprising as military officers in Mali have links to Burkina Faso’s junta, currently in power. Wagner Group insurgents have been stationed in Mali for over a year. France has some 400 special forces soldiers stationed in Burkina Faso, which is battling groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIL. Mali, also a former colony of Paris, had ordered French troops out of the country. Both military juntas are exploiting France’s flaws in its anti-jihadist campaign to install Russian mercenaries instead. But Wagner insurgents do not fight jihadists––they terrorize civilians instead, which makes the matter worse. Many demand cooperation between Burkina Faso and Russia, but also the strengthening of friendship and of cooperation with Guinea and Mali. Those in power in the two countries are people favorable to Moscow. In December 2022, Burkina Faso’s transitional Prime Minister Apollinaire Joachimson Kyelem de Tambela traveled to Moscow. Forced to withdraw troops from Burkina Faso, France is suffering bitter setbacks in the African country. That might thwart France’s anti-jihadist campaign if French troops are pushed to neighboring Niger. In addition, the country loses influence in its former colony as Russia is likely to have a more powerful role in the region. Moscow has long approached other African countries––from Sudan to Mali. Thus the Kremlin builds ties with African countries, strengthening economic and military cooperation. Russia sends thousands of military specialists under the cover of “advisors”, including the notorious Wagner Group, to the country that throws support to Russia and allows it concessions for mining natural resources. Typically, those granted a concession are companies linked to Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.
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