Despite the mutiny in Russia and the Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin saying he will move to Belarus, Lavrov claims the events “will not affect the relationship between Moscow and its African friends.”
“In addition to relations with this PMC (private military company, in reference to Wagner), the governments of CAR (Central African Republic) and Mali have official contacts with our leadership. At their request, several hundred soldiers are working in CAR as instructors. This work will continue.”
In fact, in an interview with Russian media outlet RT, Lavrov said Wagner mercenaries are doing “a good job” in Africa.
They offer security to governments in exchange for the exploitation of mines and other natural resources and have been contracted by several nations.
Western powers believe the Wagner group is used to promote Russia’s influence abroad and have accused the group of torture and exploiting natural resources.
But Lavrov said Europe and France, in particular, had “abandoned” the two African countries (CAR and Mali), which had, in turn, asked Russia and Wagner to provide military instructors and “to ensure the security of their leaders”.
The services of the military group and its mastery of social networks have multiplied its political, economic and diplomatic influence and largely explain why many African countries have not condemned the invasion of Ukraine or have been slow to do so.