Russia to Deploy Hundreds of Military to Central African Republic

Motorcycle taxi operators ride next to military vehicles that escorts the convoy of Russian armoured personnel carriers (APC) delivered to the Central African Republic army in Bangui, Central African Republic, on October 15, 2020. (Photo by Camille Laffont / AFP) (Photo by CAMILLE LAFFONT/AFP via Getty Images)
CAMILLE LAFFONT/AFP via Getty Images

Russia plans to deploy about 600 additional military personnel to the Central African Republic (CAR) in the near future, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported Thursday.

Citing a June 30 report by the Russian state-owned Sputnik news agency, Yeni Safak quoted Alexandre Ivanov, the head of Russian military instructors in the CAR, as saying, “There are now 535 Russian instructors in CAR. For the moment, we are gradually increasing the number from 535 to 1,135 people.”

“Ivanov told Sputnik on Wednesday that CAR’s Defense Minister Marie-Noelle Koyara notified the UN Security Council on May 4 that she had asked Russia to send 600 more instructors, in addition to those already present in the country,” Yeni Safak relayed.

“According to Ivanov, any possible increase in the number of Russian instructors in the future depends on the Central African Republic’s government,” the Turkish newspaper wrote.

“He [Ivanov] stressed that all Russian instructors who are in CAR territory as part of the bilateral agreements between the two countries have Russian nationality,” according to Yeni Safak.

Ivanov said some of the Russian military personnel bound for the CAR are “Arabic-speaking instructors who were recruited with the aim of ensuring comfortable interaction with the representatives of the Muslim communities in the CAR.”

“Since December 2020, the CAR army and its Russian and Rwandan allies have been fighting rebel groups and have succeeded in liberating several regions in the conflict-ridden country,” Yeni Safak noted Thursday.

Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.), Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters on May 28 that Russia planned to send hundreds of “unarmed instructors” to CAR at an unspecified time. Speaking to journalists at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, Polyansky said the Russian military personnel “are not armed because they are not supposed to be armed. They are instructors.”

The ambassador added that they “might deal with some armaments when they instruct people but they are not supposed to fight,” according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

“Numerous witnesses and NGOs say the [Russian] instructors [in CAR] are in fact paramilitaries from the Vagner Group, a Russian military contractor with indirect ties to the country’s political elite, who are actively participating alongside Rwandan special forces and UN peacekeepers in the fight against rebels trying to seize power,” RFE/RL noted May 29.

“Moscow has maintained a contingent of soldiers since 2018 in the C.A.R. to train the country’s army,” according to the broadcaster.

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