Analysis: The curious case of Russia in Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) has intermittently been the backdrop for somebody else’s war.

Despite having a population of only 4.8 million people, it is approximately the same size as France, Denmark and the Netherlands combined.

That vast open space has been used as a venue for battles by different parties; former coloniser France, strongmen from Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the notorious Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army and a United States Special Forces unit.

The latest visitors are Russia, its army and the private military outfit Wagner, who, unlike some of those who came before them, have mostly been welcomed by the locals.

“A number of citizens here consider Wagner’s presence a good thing, especially since their operatives and our army pushed back an assault on our capital, Bangui in January 2021,” reports freelance journalist Fiacre Salabe from the city.

That month, rebels backed by a former president, François Bozizé, attempted to take control of the country after his candidacy for the presidential elections had been rejected by the Constitutional Court.

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