The Russian ambassador to the Central African Republic (CAR) has said that 1,890 “Russian instructors” were present in the country, a focus of operations for the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group mercenary outfit.
“Today, there are 1,890 Russian instructors in the C.A.R,” Russian state-owned news agency RIA quoted ambassador Alexander Bikantov as saying in an interview on Friday. The government is interested in increasing their number. Relatively recently, Bangui sent the relevant application to the UN Security Council.”
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The Wagner Group, founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has become a major player in CAR, largely displacing former colonial power France.
The mineral-rich Central African country is one of the poorest countries in the world. Wagner initially intervened on the side of the government to quell a civil war which has raged since 2012.
Western countries and the United Nations have accused the mercenaries of committing human rights abuses in the country and elsewhere in the Sahel.
“They essentially run the Central African Republic” and are a growing force in Mali, General Stephen Townsend, the commander of US armed forces in Africa, told a Senate hearing in March 2022.
Wagner, which is deeply involved in the Ukraine war, has recruited extensively in Russia’s penal system and has previously deployed to Syria, Libya and Mali, among other countries.