Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, was spotted at the Russia-Africa conference hosted by President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg just one month after attempting a coup.
Prigozhin is shown in the image sporting the same attire and shaking hands with the “director of Afrique media,” according to a Wagner-branded Telegram channel.
According to the monitor All Eyes on Wagner, the Central African Republic’s president Faustin Touadera’s chief of protocol is the African official.
The tweets were part of Prigozhin’s attempt to show dominance during the meeting hosted by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. During a rebellion last month, the Prigozhin’s forces marched to within 200 kilometres of Moscow before turning back.
Wagner PMC increases influence in Africa
Local news sources claim that hundreds of Wagner mercenaries arrived in the Central African Republic last week. On July 30, the nation will vote on whether to remove the restriction on presidential terms, which would let Touadera seek office once again.
In a subsequent message, the Orchestra Wagner Telegram channel, close to the group, also claimed responsibility for a coup in Niger on the eve of the St. Petersburg meeting. However, this allegation could not be independently verified.
One of the remaining Western allies in Africa’s Sahel region is in danger of falling victim to the military coup currently taking place in Niger.
African countries have become the main focus of Russia’s foreign policy since Moscow launched a war against Ukraine and found itself isolated and under harsh economic sanctions.
However, African “allies” accept this friendship to get profit. These countries need Russian grain, weapons, and military mercenaries.
Wagner PMC has fought in wars in many countries, including the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mozambique, and Syria.
Read on this topic in our article Africa – Russia: friendship for convenience – grain and military mercenaries.
Coup in Niger
One of the few Western allies in Africa’s Sahel region, Niger, is in the midst of a military coup that threatens to destabilise the country.
President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger, who had been chosen democratically in 2021, was deposed on Wednesday night, according to the top military commanders, who announced the coup on national television.
What could it mean for the West?
In the war against Islamist terrorism, Niger is a crucial nation for Paris and Washington. It’s one of the only Sahel countries that hasn’t increased collaboration with Russia against the interests of the West and is regarded as “one of the most reliable U.S. allies” against al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram armed terrorist groups.
Only a few months had passed since French forces were forced to leave the neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso and Mali, officially ending the Barkhane operation. Bazoum’s forced departure would represent another setback for France in the continent.
Approximately 1,500 French soldiers have reportedly been stationed in Niger, despite Paris’s clout in West Africa drastically decreasing in recent years.
The bilateral military accord has received positive feedback from the Niger government. The nation was intended to serve as a pilot project for a new style of military cooperation based on an equal footing between African countries and France, a former colonial power.
Russia-Africa relations after Putin cancelled the grain deal
Since that time, Putin has revoked a U.N.-mediated agreement that had permitted Russia-invaded Ukraine to transport grain through the Black Sea. In a sign of deteriorating relations with a continent that has long maintained close ties to Moscow, only 17 African leaders attended the meeting.
The head of the Kremlin earlier declined to go to a conference of developing countries in South Africa because he might be detained as a result of an international war crimes prosecution.
Russian president Putin said that Russia is ready to supply several African countries with 25-50 thousand tonnes of grain free of charge within three to four months during his speech at the event.
It is no secret that the Russians, having occupied Ukrainian territories, among other things, seized land where wheat was grown, agricultural machinery and grain stocks. Russians bombarded Ukrainian ports and destroyed tons of Ukrainian grain.
Experts say that Moscow targets stopping Ukrainian exports, harming its economy, and destabilising food safety in countries in need. In this context, Putin’s statements about his intentions to give grain to some African countries for free look incredibly cynical.
Read on this topic in our article: Russian attacks on granaries and ports in Ukraine target famine and instability.