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September 30: A group of officers takes power in Burkina Faso. In the following days, people celebrate in the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, with Russian flags, many of them young people.
Now there were no big crowds on the streets, but this says a lot about the situation. As Russian forces fight in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin is increasing his influence in Africa. In many countries out there, they are not interested in the war in Ukraine, in other words; Many authoritarian regimes on this continent do not allow the media to write about them.
During the Cold War that lasted until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, China and Russia vied for influence in Africa. In countries such as Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Angola, each supported their own liberation movements. Since the 1990s, the Russians and the Chinese have partly competed with each other and partly cooperated. The Chinese are far ahead in terms of financial investment and economic relations, and the Russians give priority to military activities. While the Chinese are sending in UN soldiers and conducting military exercises, the Russians are militarily involved in several countries, primarily through the infamous Wagner Group, a mercenary controlled by Putin’s good friend Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Arab Spring In 2011 and the emergence of terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda and/or ISIS in the following years came as a gift to President Putin. After NATO bombed Libya and killed the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya ended up in a civil war. In this war, Putin has backed rebel Khalifa Haftar, who from his headquarters in Benghazi is still fighting the UN-recognized government in the capital, Tripoli.
The troops sent to Benghazi were mercenaries from the Wagner Group, known for their seriousness when President Putin invaded parts of Ukraine’s Donbass region in 2014. They also operated in Syria. But the real Russian entry occurred in the Sahel after Islamist groups gained increasingly large areas under their control.
In Mali, a full-scale civil war erupted in 2012 when separatists from the ethnic Tuareg group joined the ranks of Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda. After an invitation from the Malian authorities, French soldiers intervened in January 2013. Three months later, the United Nations created the multinational stabilization force MINUSMA, in which Norway is also participating. It was not very successful, and after military coups in 2020 and 2021, the authorities turned away from France and the West and instead focused on Russia.
Today, the Wagner Group Founded in Libya, Mali, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Sudan and Madagascar. In Mali, close cooperation with coup plotters:
The authorities in Mali are sitting in the Russian trap and are completely dependent on the Russian state. Once the Russians enter the theater of war, it is impossible to get them out again. It has also happened in the Central African Republic, analyst Samuel Ramani of the British research organization The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) tells the BBC.
The Wagner Group has been active in the Central African Republic since 2018, and its soldiers there, as elsewhere, have been accused of mass murder, torture, disappearance and rape.
Putin’s advantage is that he can evade Russian accusations of human rights abuses because the Wagner soldiers are not officially part of the Russian military.
The coup in Burkina Faso on September 30 was led by Captain Ibrahim Traore. Only nine months passed after another military coup-maker, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaugo Damiba, appointed himself leader of the country.
Islamist terrorist groups control 40 percent of Burkina Faso’s territory, and Damiba has vowed to crack down on the Islamists. He failed to do so, and so now it is the turn of Brahim Traore.
literally smell Russian involvement in the coup in Burkina Faso. One of the first to congratulate was Yevgeny Prigozhin, who called the leader of the new junta “a brave son of his motherland.” Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, was more explicit in his speech:
A new African country will stop cooperating with France to join an alliance with Russia.
As soon as possible, soldiers from the Wagner Group will be deployed in Burkina Faso. It is part of history that after the coup, Traore’s supporters attacked the French embassy and the French cultural center in the capital.
the West Western-oriented African countries are concerned with development. It is not convenient that Putin is struggling in Ukraine and needs military forces there, because the Russian president now has so few friends that he has to not only maintain his presence in Africa, but also increase his presence.
Between 2015 and 2019, Moscow signed 19 cooperation agreements with African countries, focusing mainly on arms sales.
Another question is whether the Russians are better at fighting the Islamists on the African continent than the Americans and the French.
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