Moscow has sent planeloads of arms to the country, alongside five armed forces personnel and more than 200 private military contractors to train hundreds of elite troops.
Valery Zakharov, a former Russian intelligence official, is the national security adviser to CAR president Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and Russia is setting up a team inside CAR’s defence ministry.
This month, during a visit to Russia, CAR’s defence minister told state media that there was a “possibility” of Moscow opening a full military base in the country.
Such actions have unnerved France, CAR’s former colonial ruler and traditionally its most prominent foreign ally. Roland Marchal, a Russia-Africa expert at Sciences Po, says Moscow’s approach of supporting African leaders through government-backed defence and industrial deals is straight out of the “Françafrique” playbook of the 1970s and 1980s, when the state and commercial interests of Paris were intertwined.
“It’s pure Françafrique. Change the flag and you have the same methodology,” he adds.
This looks like a minor growing trend.
The Soviet Union sunk untold billions in development aid to the Third World, for questionable gain, and was rewarded with a knife in its back every so often. But these current ventures seem to be linked to concrete resource concessions, so at least they make economic sense.
Squealing from the former Western colonial powers upon whose demesne China and now Russia is intruding on is an added bonus.
I suppose providing a less geopolitically risky thymotic outlet for the sort of guys who sign up with Wagner might also be a consideration.
The main concern is that this doesn’t translate into African immigration.