Wagner mercenaries sustain losses in fight for Central African Republic gold – by Zeinab Mohammed Salih and Jason Burke (The Guardian – February 2, 2023)


Russian fighters clash with rebels as Kremlin tries to extend power in mineral rich country

Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group have sustained heavy casualties in a new surge of fighting between government troops and rebels over the control of lucrative goldmines in Central African Republic (CAR).

The clashes come amid increasing instability in the anarchic, resource-rich country, which in recent years has become one of Russia’s main hubs of influence in sub-Saharan Africa. The government offensive is led by some of the estimated 1,000 Wagner fighters stationed in CAR since 2018.

Wagner was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to the Kremlin, and has been deployed in about a dozen African countries as part of a Russian effort to project power on the continent and extract valuable resources. Last month, the US designated Wagner as a “significant transnational criminal organisation”, in part because of its increasing role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In CAR, Wagner fighters have defended the regime of Faustin-Archange Touadéra against successive rebel attacks on the capital, Bangui, and have been accused of human rights abuses.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/02/wagner-mercenaries-sustain-losses-in-fight-for-central-african-republic-gold