France Freezes Aid to Central African Republic Over Russia Ties
Paris to CAR: 'I never liked you anyway'
France has suspended military cooperation with and economic aid to the Central African Republic (C.A.R.). France accuses C.A.R.’s government of being “complicit” in a Russian disinformation campaign targeting France, a French defense ministry official said to the media on Monday. [Which is codeword for France being less popular than Russia in CAR.]
The French foreign ministry said that $12.2 million in economic aid to the C.A.R. government would be “suspended until further notice.” [Oh noes, not a full $12.2 million.] However, French humanitarian aid and other projects worth more than $7.3 million, which directly target the needy Central African population will continue, the ministry added.
The French military will also continue to provide about 100 soldiers in a European Union-led military training operation in the C.A.R.
“On several occasions, the Central African authorities have made commitments they haven’t respected, as much in the political area towards the opposition as with regards to their behavior towards France, which is the target of a massive disinformation campaign,” the unnamed spokesperson said.
While the campaign was orchestrated by Russia, “the Central Africans are at best complicit in this campaign,” the spokesman added.
France also suspended military operations with the Malian Army after the second coup in the country in nine months. The French have 5,100 troops in Mali supporting Operation Barkhane. The operation tries to stem the tide of Islamic terrorist insurgents against Mali and the other Sahel nations.
The C.A.R. Aligns Itself to Russia
Russia’s influence in the country has increased significantly since 2018.
President Faustin Archange Touadéra granted Russia mineral and mining concessions and in return accepted Russia’s “security assistance” which consisted of arms shipments and instructors from the Wagner Group. The mercenary group now provides security for the president and other C.A.R. political elites. Further, Russian former Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) operative, Valery Zakharov, is now the national security adviser for the C.A.R. government.
As soon as the Russians began moving into the African country, the disinformation program against the French began. Russia is attempting to increase its influence, at the expense of Paris. To that effect, Wagner’s owner Yevgeny Prigozhin had several Facebook proxy groups tout Russian efforts while criticizing the French government.
Russia continues to oppose sanctions against the C.A.R. government. Potential sanctions would interfere with Russia’s mining interests in diamonds. Additionally, Russia constantly lobbies for the relaxation of arms embargoes so that it can export more arms to the Touadéra government.