The clashes come amid growing instability in the resource-rich country, which in recent years has become one of Russia's main centers of influence in sub-Saharan Africa. (Central Africa)

Heavy losses for “Wagner” in Central Africa

Heavy losses for “Wagner” in Central Africa: The clashes come amid growing instability in the resource-rich country, which in recent years has become one of Russia’s main centers of influence in sub-Saharan Africa.

Heavy losses for “Wagner” in Central Africa

Heavy losses for “Wagner” in Central Africa: The clashes come amid growing instability in the resource-rich country, which in recent years has become one of Russia’s main centers of influence in sub-Saharan Africa.

Government forces are commanded by Wagnerian fighters, estimated to number around 1,000, stationed in the Central African Republic since 2018.

Russian businessman with close ties to the Kremlin, Yevgeny Prigozhin, founded the Wagner Group and expanded it to more than a dozen African countries as part of a Russian effort to project power to the continent and extract valuable resources.

Russian mercenaries in the Wagner group have suffered heavy casualties in a new clash between government forces and rebels over the lucrative gold mines in the Central African Republic.
Last month, the U.S. labeled Wagner a “transnational criminal organization,” in part because of its growing role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Wagner’s fighters have defended the regime of Faustin-Archange Touadera, against successive rebel attacks on the capital, Bangui, and have been accused of human rights violations.

Heavy clashes

Clashes began two weeks ago in a town near the borders with Cameroon and Chad, pitting rebels against Russians and government forces.

Violence broke out again near the Sudanese border late last week. Rebel sources said 17 Wagner fighters were killed in the fighting.

Experts say it is difficult to establish reliable numbers, but it is clear that Wagner suffered heavy casualties.

A source close to the Central African National Army said seven Russians were killed in the ambush, in one of the biggest “Wagner” casualties in Africa since fighting Islamist rebels in Mozambique in 2019. The clashes come amid growing instability in the resource-rich country, which in recent years has become one of Russia’s main centers of influence in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Central African forces were not involved in the fighting,” says Ahmadou Ali, a commander in the rebel alliance. It was a battle between us and the Russians. They just used government forces to legitimize things. The Russians control every part of the country. You can find them anywhere there are valuable resources. They have stolen all our resources.

Touadera fist

Although Touadera’s grip on power remains strong, the new violence indicates greater instability in Central Africa than in recent years.

The country – one of the poorest in the world – is facing economic collapse. A series of shifts in the alignment of regional powers in recent months has also increased tensions.

“The president should resign,” said Marie-Raine Hassan, a former diplomat and opposition politician. Nobody wants him, and I know they won’t, but it’s a mess. People are starving, there is no clean water, no electricity.

The Guardian newspaper quoted witnesses as saying that Wagnerian fighters had committed “massacres” after invading camps full of migrant miners in recent weeks.Since Wagnerian forces arrived in central Africa, they have attempted to control gold and diamond mines.

Analysts believe the group has been promised concessions of gold and other metals in exchange for its services, rather than cash payments.

“Black Russians” sent to Donbass region of Ukraine

Citing local military officials, The Daily Beast reported in late November that a private Russian military company was releasing prisoners in the Central African Republic, who were then sent to the Donbass region of Ukraine.

They said men imprisoned for crimes such as rape and murder were being released in large numbers to join Wagner’s forces.

According to officials, Wagner’s “wing” in the Central African Republic has hundreds of fighters, and they are called the derogatory “Black Russians.”