Russia creates new mercenary army in Africa, replacing Wagner group, says Bloomberg

Russia, aiming to expand its influence in Africa, plans to create expeditionary forces consisting of 20,000 mercenaries, replacing the Wagner Private Military Company’s fighters.

Source: Bloomberg

Quote: “The Africa Corps, which controversially shares the name of Adolf Hitler’s expeditionary force, aims to enlist new recruits and former Wagner fighters by mid-year to deploy to at least five Russia-friendly countries – Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic and Niger – according to the group. Wagner was technically disbanded following Prigozhin’s death but remains active.”

Details: The publication asserts that the African corps will bolster Russia’s military presence through a network of bases under the control of the Russian Ministry of Defence, as part of Moscow’s efforts to revive its influence amid a rapid decline in Western influence.

“It would also allow the Kremlin to consolidate control of Wagner’s business network in Africa, including potentially lucrative mining interests, following the death last year of the group’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin,” the publication writes.

An unnamed source close to the Russian Ministry of Defence says that the plans involve recruiting 20,000 mercenaries, although it remains unclear where the military department will find such a large number of personnel.

Bloomberg notes that even at the peak of its activity in African operations, the Wagner Group had at most a few thousand individuals. Meanwhile, Russia is attempting to recruit at least another 250,000 for participation in the war in Ukraine this year.

Additionally, if Russia transitions to an ‘official military role’ in Africa, it may lose the ability to refute UN accusations of war crimes in Africa directed at the Wagner Group.

“There is a downside for the Russians as well, which is that you no longer have deniability. If you rebrand those forces as part of the army, you now own that problem,” said Pham, a former senior US diplomat.

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