Following the significant expansion of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) forces throughout the African continent over the past half-decade, Russia is playing its own hand at advising indigenous forces while increasing its military footprint in central Africa.
At the end of last week Russia announced it would be significantly expanding its military advisory role in the Central African Republic (CAR) after earlier this year it established 175 trainers to CAR forces and donated hundreds of weapons weapons following an exemption from a United Nations arms embargo that would allow external forces to bolster the CAR government’s fight against militia groups waging an insurgency.
Last Friday Russia said it is deploying 60 more instructors to engage it what international reports have described as “its most significant military foray in Africa in decades”. And on Monday, a high Russian official who personally represents President Putin in the region indicated an open-ended commitment to the conflict which could involve sending more troops.
The Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, addressed the issue of scope and timeline to the operations on Monday to reporters: “It all depends on the will of the country’s government, of its legitimate authorities,” according to TASS. “When we have the opportunity, we always respond to requests. I am talking about cooperation in the sphere of security.”
“So I am not ruling that out [sending additional military instructors to the Central African Republic]. If there is a need for more, there will be more,” Bogdanov said.
Russia had initially sent military advisers and technical aid to country last March at the request of the CAR’s president. The country has been in crisis since 2013 when the Islamist Seleka coalition from the north of the country took over Bangui – the country’s capital and largest city – toppling then-President Francois Bozize. Chaos was unleashed further as counter-militias went after Muslims in the wake of massacres against Christians and followers of traditional African religions. The U.N. has cited that over 6,000 people were killed during the opening part of the crisis.
Meanwhile Russian media sources have long confirmed that many of the Russians in CAR are private security contractors engaged in multiple roles such as “mediating negotiations among armed groups, securing mining projects and advising CAR’s president,” according to TASS.
Full article: New Cold War In Africa? Russia Bolstering Military Advisers To Central African Republic (ZeroHedge)