USA is concerned about the activity of Russian mercenaries in Africa
The candidate for the post of head of the African command called them part of a campaign to strengthen the Russian influence on the continent
The candidate on a post of the head of the US Africa command said the presence of Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic is part of the efforts of President Vladimir Putin’s restoration of Russian influence in Africa South of the Sahara.
“They cause me serious concern,” said U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, speaking about private military company “the Group of Wagner” who is now working in the Central African Republic, one of the poorest countries in the world where since 2012 the raging conflict between Christians and Muslims.
Speaking at the hearing on his confirmation to the Senate Committee on armed forces, Townsend noted that Russia is using mercenaries to “guard the head of state, President Faustin-Arcania Tradery, and for the training of local armed forces.”
“Part of this activity may be harmless, is not harmless,” said the General, answering a question of Senator Gary Peters.
According to Townsend, the paramilitaries, presumably from the “group of Wagner” was used in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine to allow Putin to deny the involvement of the Russian military. These formations are called “green men”.
“It’s the paramilitaries, and, as we saw in Crimea and Ukraine, little green men may not follow the rules of behavior that we expect from this army,” said Townsend.
Senator Peters asked how much risk they represent paramilitary forces to the United States and its interests in Africa.
“Senator, I have some experience with the Russian mercenaries… since Syria,” said Townsend, who served as the commander of the operation “Steadfast determination” of Joint combined task force in Iraq and Syria.
In February 2018 Russian mercenaries along with the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad participated in the attack on the Outpost in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zur, which was controlled by the U.S. military and Syrian democratic forces.
The attack failed to reflect the efforts of the forces special operations Command, the Marine corps artillery and air strikes.
In his opening remarks at the hearing, democratic Senator Jack reed noted that Russia “developing historical alliances in countries such as Libya to secure access to the Mediterranean sea, and forms new partnerships in countries such as Central African Republic, to gain resources and new allies.”
“Russia is infiltrated in the CAR, gives them advice. Apparently, this is Putin’s attempt to regain the influence it had under the Soviet Union,” says Reid.
Moscow does not conceal its plans with respect to Africa. According to state media, the Ministry of defense and Ministry of foreign Affairs, in 2014 Russia has signed 19 agreements on military cooperation in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
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