Russia Sends More Troops to Central Africa Republic Amid Rebel Offensive

An extra 300 military trainers as rebels make a push for the capital ahead of election

Rwanda and Russia have sent troops and supplies to the Central African Republic to help counter a surge in violence by rebel groups ahead of Sunday’s election, officials and a security source in Bangui said.

Security forces and U.N. peacekeepers have been battling rebels who have occupied towns and roads outside the capital.

The authorities accuse former president Francois Bozize, whose presidential candidacy was rejected by the courts, of plotting a coup with several militant groups. A spokesman for Bozize’s KNK party has denied the accusations.

The United Nations Security Council condemned the violence by armed groups and other militia in a statement on Monday after being briefed on the situation by U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

“The members of the Security Council called on all actors to urgently cease hostile actions and work towards ensuring conditions conducive to the holding of the upcoming elections,” the council said.

President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who is seeking re-election, came to office in 2016 after Bozize was overthrown in a rebellion three years earlier. He has struggled to restore stability and swathes of the country remain beyond government control.

The CAR government said on Sunday that Rwanda and Russia “took steps to provide effective support which arrived on Central African territory today”.

The Rwandan Defence Ministry confirmed it had sent troops.

Russia, which has previously sent arms and military contractors to CAR as it seeks to increase its influence in Africa, denied media reports it had sent in troops and military aid.

“Apart from five employees of Russian defence ministry’s mission at the CAR’s defence ministry, there are no other Russian military personnel (in the country),” Russia’s ambassador to CAR, Vladimir Titorenko, was quoted as saying by Russia’s state RIA news agency.

“But instructors who teach the CAR’s army upon its government’s request do work here. Periodically there is a rotation of them, and this is well known to the U.N. Security Council and the world community,” Titorenko said.

But a security source in Bangui said over the past few days, Russian planes have landed carrying military personnel and supplies.

On Monday, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia considered the situation in CAR “a matter of serious concern”. Touadera has friendly ties with Moscow and has a Russian national as a security adviser.

U.N. peacekeeping mission MINUSCA said on Monday there had been a “slight lull” near the town of Yaloke following an attack over the weekend by armed groups. A security and humanitarian source also said the town of Mbaiki, about 100 km (60 miles) from Bangui was calmer following clashes.

The United States, France and Russia have also accused Bozize of seeking to disrupt the election.

Source: Reuters

The following text is machine-translated from Russian.

Africa is large, but nowhere to retreat

Russia sent its military to the Central African Republic (CAR) to help the authorities of that country stop the rebel offensive against the capital. This was announced by an official representative of the CAR government. Moscow does not comment on his statement, but expresses concern over “information about the mutiny.” Russian military advisers have long been in the CAR on an official basis, and the presence there of fighters of private military companies (PMCs) is no secret. The day before, local media reported about the defeat of “Russian mercenaries” in the city of Mbaiki, about 100 km from the capital of the CAR. At the same time, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov noted that “now there is no threat to the life of one of the Russians.”

The situation in the CAR, where presidential and parliamentary elections are to be held on December 27, sharply worsened at the end of last week. The leaders of several armed rebel groups announced the creation of the “Coalition of Patriots for Change”, which numbered about 9 thousand people. The coalition includes groups associated with two of the most influential rebel organizations: the Muslim Seleka and the Christian Antibalaka. Back on Friday, coalition forces launched an offensive on the CAR capital, Bangui. The government of the country accused ex-President François Bozizet of attempting a coup d’état, whom the Constitutional Court did not admit to the presidential elections in early December, since back in 2014 the CAR authorities issued an international arrest warrant for his murder, illegal detention, abduction and torture.

With the coming to power of François Bozizet in 2003 as a result of a coup, the situation in the CAR has steadily worsened: a sluggish civil war unfolded in the northeast.

Ten years later, after the seizure of the CAR capital Bangui by the Seleka militants, he fled the country. In July this year, François Bozizet was elected as the presidential candidate of his party Kwa Na Kwa (Work, Work Only). Party officials denied government accusations against ex-President Bozize. At the same time, the leaders of the Democratic Opposition Coalition, which included 16 parties, called on the authorities to postpone the general elections to a later date – “until peace and security are restored in the country.” At the same time, France, Russia, the US, the EU and the World Bank called on François Bozizet and the armed groups allied with him to lay down their arms and not interfere with the elections.

Already on Sunday, the representative of the UN Multidisciplinary Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINURCA) Vladimir Monteiro said that the situation in the republic is under the control of the authorities. “A force of peacekeepers has been deployed to the city of Mbaiki, where fighting took place on Saturday, to block the armed groups there. The armed elements left the city of Yaloke, located 220 km from the CAR capital of Bangui, ”he told AFP French news agency .

The capture of the city of Mbaiki, 107 km from the capital of the CAR by the rebels, was reported on Saturday by the local news portal Corbeaunews , noting that “the troops of the CAR armed forces and Russian mercenaries have been defeated,” but reinforcements are coming to their aid. Journalists also questioned whether MINURCA would cooperate with PMC Wagner in order to “resist the insurgent advance.”

Russia has never confirmed the presence of PMC Wagner in the CAR, as well as in other countries, but local media constantly write about this. It was also reported that Russian PMCs provide personal protection for the CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

Particular attention was drawn to the topic after the murder in the CAR of a group of Russian journalists (Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Kirill Radchenko) in July 2018, whose purpose of visit was to investigate the activities of PMC Wagner in an African country. At the same time, Moscow does not hide the presence of military instructors in the CAR. In March 2018, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced its decision to provide Bangui with military-technical assistance free of charge. With the consent of the UN Security Council, a batch of small arms and ammunition was delivered to the CAR, and five military and 170 Russian civilian instructors were sent there to train local military personnel.

On Sunday evening, the CAR government asked for help in ensuring the security of the electoral process to “friendly and fraternal countries” – Russia and Rwanda. “The two countries mentioned responded positively to this call and took steps to provide effective support that was provided on the same day,” the CAR government said in a statement on Sunday. At the same time, information appeared on social networks about the arrival of Russian planes in the Central African Republic, which allegedly delivered weapons and PMC employees. At the same time, the press secretary of the CAR government, Anj Maxim Kazagi, told AFP that Russia, within the framework of a bilateral agreement on cooperation, “sent several hundred people from the regular forces and heavy equipment.” He did not indicate the exact number of people, nor the date of their arrival in the CAR.

Meanwhile, the Rwandan Ministry of Defense on Monday confirmed the dispatch of its troops to the CAR. “This is a response to the attacks that the rebels, supported by François Bozizet, are conducting against the Rwandan Defense Forces contingent of UN peacekeepers,” the ministry said in a statement. The Rwandans are planning to keep order in the elections in the CAR on December 27.

In Moscow, however, no comments were made on the CAR government’s statement. Meanwhile, the Kremlin on Monday expressed concern about information coming from the CAR. At the same time, when asked by journalists about the fate of Russian military advisers, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov replied that “now there is no threat to the life of any of the Russians.”

The Russian Ambassador to the CAR, Vladimir Titorenko, told RIA Novosti that the situation in Bangui is stable, but in cities far from the capital, outside the control of the central authorities, “certain disorders are observed” and MINURCA forces are being deployed there, which have already taken control of the situation. He also said that the UN plans to increase the 12,000-strong peacekeeping contingent by another 300 people.

“Business and businessmen connected with Russia have always been in the CAR, but it was possible to enter the country strategically only in 2018, it is possible that through Sudan and the UAE, with which representatives of the Central African armed Muslim opposition and their business environment were associated. But it was precisely the disappointment in the policy of France, which always put on the titular political groups in the capital, as well as in the work of the UN, that created a favorable background for the appearance of the Russian Federation there, “Africanist Alexei Tselunov explained to Kommersant. He recalled that the French peacekeeping operation “Sangari” (2013-2016) deepened the split of the country into more or less controlled by the central authorities of the capital territory and the uncontrolled north. And the UN did not see the Muslim opposition as a participant in the negotiation process, moreover, it refers it to Islamic radicals,

According to Alexei Tselunov, Russia has proposed a generally sensible idea of ​​”reassembling the nation through the construction of a unified armed forces and the formation of a more or less balanced representation of the southern elites and the Muslim minority inhabiting the northern regions.” “There was a carriage of ideas, up to the point of making a“ bridge ”from the CAR from Sudan to Congo. Cooperation also promised material dividends. The CAR has undiscovered and underexplored reserves of uranium, gold, diamonds, coltan, copper; it is a hub for regional transit trade. But first of all, it is “export of security” – a sphere in which Russia is trying to occupy its niche in Africa against the background of the weakness of the Russian economy and the inability to compete in business and investment projects with the United States, China and the countries of the former metropolises and new forces (India, Brazil, Malaysia, Turkey and so on) “, – said the expert.

According to him, at least in the field of military cooperation (in particular, in terms of training the Central African armed forces by Russian military advisers and PMC operators), certain successes have been achieved. And they allowed the CAR authorities to move forward in restoring state control over the country. “However, there was no strategic planning, competent negotiators, a comprehensive vision of the situation. The informality of the presence creates obstacles related to its legitimation and the loyalty of Russian-trained servicemen, who have never been brought together into units completely loyal to Moscow. It can be assumed that at this stage, without major strategic projects for rebuilding the country, Russia’s opportunities in the CAR may end, ”stressed Mr. Tselunov.

Source: Kommersant

  1. Undecider says

    As with Afghanistan and others, the Russians like to get suckered in to American/CIA created crises.

  2. thomas malthaus says

    “The informality of the presence creates obstacles related to its legitimation and the loyalty of Russian-trained servicemen, who have never been brought together into units completely loyal to Moscow. It can be assumed that at this stage, without major strategic projects for rebuilding the country, Russia’s opportunities in the CAR may end, ”stressed Mr. Tselunov.”

    The article mentioned nothing about US military and CIA trainers there. That would seem to go without saying.

    “Despite its significant mineral deposits and other resources, such as uranium reserves, crude oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, lumber, and hydropower,[12] as well as significant quantities of arable land, the Central African Republic is among the ten poorest countries in the world (resource curse), with the lowest GDP per capita at purchasing power parity in the world as of 2017.’–Central African Republic, Wikipedia.

    1. cechas vodobenikov says

      poverty is relative. this is especially true where government has little control of the informal economy. It is estimated that 60-80% of CAR economy in unrecorded and is not taxed

      1. thomas malthaus says

        Under any political and tax system, some level of extreme poverty will exist, as well as an underground economy.

        It’s very difficult to admonish citizens about tax avoidance as corruption is heavily concentrated among the elite.

        In western societies, people won’t take hints to have fewer children and less bling.

  3. cechas vodobenikov says

    many ethno-religious divisions in CAR—it is reported France has also sent some troops

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