first published on April 18, 2019 by Will
In an attempt to expand financial, political, and military influence across the globe, Russia has invested troops and time into the embattled Central African Republic.
CAR is rich in minerals and other resources but has been plagued by violence as a result of sectarian strife and a civil war between a dozen plus militant parties, all vying for power over the undeveloped African nation that is currently considered a horrendous humanitarian crisis because millions of citizens are displaced, starving, and ill due to the fighting.
Russia has apparently seen an opportunity to benefit from the former French colony and has deployed hundreds of troops to CAR. As demonstrated in Syria and Ukraine, Russia has found great success adopting the traditional American Green Beret tactic of training, advising, and assisting host nation forces to fight a shared enemy. They are now exporting that tactic to Africa.
Although the French had previously tried a similar program, they failed, largely in part to European Union (EU) limitations placed on the operation, including the prohibition of arming the host nation troops with weapons.
Russia hasn’t limited themselves with such feel-good measures and are able to provide their own arms to the host nation army, likely sold in exchange for access to Central African Republic resources. As long as Russia can maintain the logistics of the operation, this is a win-win situation for their economy. Russian weapons manufacturers stay busy while valuable resources flood in.
The following Al Jazeera video is a must-watch and shows an interview with Valery Zakharov, a former Russian intelligence official. Zakharov is obviously tight-lipped about anything of substance, but describes the troops as “reservists.” It’s likely that these advisors are experienced mercenaries with the infamous “Wagner Group” private military company. The use of private security contractors has benefited both Western and Russian governments, as their non-official status allows troop deployments, deaths, and operations to be kept from the public.