For years, the private paramilitary group Wagner has been considered Moscow's armed wing abroad, notably in Syria and several African countries. This status is now being called into question by the halted rebellion led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, its leader.
At the end of a spectacular mutiny that took him less than 400 kilometers from Moscow before he gave up, Prigozhin has now gone into exile in Belarus, a Moscow ally, leaving the world in doubt about his next moves including those concerning his troops operations in Africa.
This map shows the likely and proven presence of Wagner troops in Africa. Investigation has already long confirmed forces from the mercenary group play an increasingly central role in long-running internal conflicts in Mali where they were accused of committing the Moura Massacre. UN ivestigators claim at least 500 people were killed in the central Malian village of Moura, the vast majority, summarily executed – by Malian troops and foreign military personnel during a five-day operation. The governments in Mali and Russia deny this allegation.
But it is not only in Mali that Wagner has established presence in Africa. Elsewhere, they have made a strong presence in the Central African Republic (CAR), where they helped to defend the government of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra against rebel attacks on the capital, Bangui in 2018. They are also reported to be in Libya, Mozambique, and Sudan.
On Saturday, the Kremlin hinted at the dissolution of the group, after it announced that fighters who had not taken part in the mutiny would sign contracts with the defence ministry.
But what about the groups estimated 5000 troops in Africa. For now with little or no information yet, It remains to be seen what Russia will do with the wagner group's presence in Africa.
Wagner, the private paramilitary group first made a name for itself internationally through its involvement in Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014.