Against the background of the increasing presence and influence of the Russian private military company Wagner in Africa, France is being pushed out of the continent.
Burkina Faso cooperates with Russia: loss of French influence
France’s foreign ministry said on January 3 that it had received a letter from Burkina Faso authorities in December requesting the French ambassador to leave Burkina Faso, a move the ministry called an “abnormal practice”.
The apparent expulsion signals a further deterioration in relations between France and Burkina Faso. At the same time, the presence and influence of the Russian PMC “Wagner” are increasing.
A similar scenario took place in Mali when the French ambassador to Mali was given 72 hours to leave the country, as The Guardian reported.
Burkina Faso is a country in West Africa and a former French colony that has been under the leadership of a military junta for most of its existence and has suffered from attacks by Islamist rebels.
The arrival of a new military junta
On September 30, 2022, Burkina Faso underwent a coup d’état that ousted interim President Paul-Henri Sandao Damibou due to his alleged inability to deal with the country’s Islamist insurgency.
Damiba came to power in a coup just eight months ago. Captain Ibrahim Traore became the interim leader.
After that, protesters with the Russian flag began to appear on the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso: Military officers remove President Damiba in a coup
“The presence of Russian flags at the demonstration is related to the fact that both in Mali and in Burkina Faso, public opinion is prepared and has been tempted that Russia can become an alternative to France since the French military presence has not solved the security problem in the country,” – Africa specialist Thierry Vircoulon from the French Institute of International Relations IFRI says on France 24.
The expert does not rule out that the new government of Burkina Faso, which expressed support for the putschists of neighboring Mali, may follow their example and turn to the Russian private military company “Wagner”. In early January, RFI reported the arrival of Russian mercenaries in Mali.
RFI sources claim that there are already about 350 Wagnerians and Russian instructors operating in the country. In Paris, the appearance of mercenaries was called incompatible with an international presence. However, having failed to prevent their arrival in Mali, France is in no hurry to wind down its military presence in the context of a large-scale reorganization.
If the junta of Burkina Faso responds to the proposal of Russian saboteurs and the “demands of the people”, this country will join several African states where PMC “Wagner” feels at home.
This is primarily the Central African Republic, in which mercenaries are successfully interfering in the governance of the country, Mali, where the Russians came after the recent military coup, Libya and Sudan. And this is by no means the end of Russian ambitions.
Reaction to the coup
Meanwhile, the owner of the Russian private military company Wagner, a close associate of Putin, Yevgeny Prigozhin, welcomed the coup d’état in Burkina Faso. He called the seizure of power by the military the beginning of a “new era of decolonization of Africa.” And – the concluding passage – “Putin was also a colonel when the process of re-creating a great state began.”
The mass media associated with the name of Yevgeny Prigozhin have already seen in the Russian flags that unexpectedly appeared on the streets of Ouagadougou, “the symbol of the liberation movement of Burkina Faso”, as well as the “interest” of the residents of the African country in repeating the experience of Mali and Central African Republic and “for the support of the Kremlin to be freed from radicals.”
Private military company in Mali and Central African Republic
First of all, it should be mentioned that the Members of the European Parliament want to include the Russian private military company “Wagner” in the list of terrorist organizations for their crimes against the people in Africa.
Against the background of dissatisfaction of the Malian authorities with the French military presence, they became interested in the services of Russian military groups after their rather successful activities in Syria and the Central African Republic.
Reuters, citing sources in French military circles, writes that 300-400 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group and instructors who provide equipment are in the central part of Mali. And it does not quite coincide with the statements of the Malian junta that Russian mercenaries only play the role of instructors in this West African country.
The main interest of PMC “Wagner” is the natural resources of Mali.
Central African Republic
Russia considered the Central African Republic as its new sphere of influence in Africa, where it acted with the help of Wagner mercenaries, sending its instructors to train the armed forces of the Central African Republic to keep their protege President Fosten-Arcange Touader in power. Despite the UN embargo, the Russian Federation sold two batches of guns to the Central African Republic in 2018 and 2019.
Again, Russia’s interest in the guise of the PMC “Wagner” in the Central African Republic is precious natural resources such as gold and diamonds in exchange for training a capable army and maintaining power in the country.
- More details: https://insightnews.media/africa-russia-friendship-for-convenience-grain-and-military-mercenaries/
So, the Russian flag in the hands of the participants of the protest in Ouagadougou is another proof that Russia is playing a complex game in Africa with an eye on Europe. And perhaps it generates instability, with which it then fights – a favorite trick of the Russian special services.