The elusive Russian private military company, Group Wagner, is prey to silly damnation since it made its way to Africa and into the Central Africa Republic (CAR) in 2018. In collaboration with some media houses like CNN and RFI, France is going depths just to secure her castrated presence in Central African Republic against Russia. And just as it is said that “in a war of elephants, it’s the grass that suffers”, the embattled Central African state of president Faustin Archange Touadera still suffers conflicts with by rebel attackers until now.

How Violence Erupted in Central Africa Republic

Since gaining independence in 1960, CAR has experienced decades of violence and instability. An insurgency led by the Seleka (or “alliance” in Sango)—a coalition of armed, primarily Muslim groups—has resulted in the severe deterioration of the country’s security infrastructure and heightened ethnic tensions. Seleka fighters launched an offensive against the CAR government in December 2012, and both seized the capital city of Bangui and staged a coup in March 2013. In response to brutality by Seleka forces, “anti-balaka” (meaning “invincible” in Sango) coalitions of Christian fighters formed to carry out reprisal violence against Seleka fighters, adding an element of religious animosity to the violence that had previously been absent. Despite optimism after the election of President Faustin Archange Touadera in the spring of 2016, the crisis only intensified. Due to the scale of the crisis, the UN Security Council established a peacekeeping force in April 2014 that incorporated African Union and French forces that had been deployed to CAR previously. And in 2018, President Touadera solicited help from Russia who dispatched military personnel and Private Military Contractors (PMCs) - the Wagner Group, who stayed back till date to help counter attacks by rebel factions.

Constructed Lies and Accusations Against Wagner Group

Since mid-June, media channels – CNN, RFI and The Sentry have been propagating false information aimed at tarnishing the image and help coming from the Russian Private Military Company- Wagner to the Central African Republic. Accusations of massacres, extrajudicial executions, cases of torture, looting, kidnappings for ransom, burning of villages and gang rapes by the Russian mercenaries. The Sentry, through its senior investigator- Nathalia Dukhan, goes further to call on international and regional actors to ‘take coordinated action to come to the aid of a population that is being wiped out by this war waged in the name of a greedy and corrupt power’. All false accusations disclosed for the sole purpose of discrediting Russian instructors who are fighting the rebels alongside the Central African armed forces. Just showing how France will stop at nothing to paint the Kremlin forces dark.

Central African Republic Gov’t Questions all Accusations

The CAR government has called into question the recent revelations made by the French and US media RFI and CNN, attributing to Russian instructors carrying out "abuses and serious violations of human rights" in the Central African Republic.

Central African government spokesperson Ange Maxime Kazagui tweeted his astonishment at the method used by French journalists in their investigation and questioned the merits of these accusations against Russian instructors and the Central African forces. "We believe that these are actions organized against our country with a very clear objective. It is simply to ensure that the progress of our Armed Forces and our allies in the liberation of our country is stopped ... You cannot try to force us to accuse our forces and our allies without a real investigation being carried out,” Kazagui stressed.

The Central African authorities have further stated that they were at no time informed of any investigations carried out in the CAR, and of the initiator, the methods and even less the timeframe during which the investigation was carried out. "In addition, the government has never been asked to give its opinion on a possible report, thus allowing it to get an idea of the credibility of the investigators, of their approach, of their objectivity and of course of the truth of the facts.” the statement said.

In a similar statement, the Russian Ambassador to the Central African Republic, Vladimir Titorenko, reacted to the investigation published by French RFI journalists denouncing "fake news". "We regret that by publishing this article a renowned media like CNN is aligning itself with fake news makers who only serve the interests of the evildoers who are plotting to overthrow the legitimate government," Titorenko said. The Russian diplomat also underlined in his press release that the entire RFI publication concerning Russian instructors is based on "word of mouth". “None of the many confidential documents has been made public. The publication is not accompanied by any audiovisual. It is impossible to identify the interviewees who are mentioned in the publication", the Russian diplomat added in the statement.

Russia’s Unavoidable Presence in CAR

Russia’s military intervention is a means of expanding its diplomatic leverage in CAR and reducing France’s long-term influence. In order to maximise its influence, Vladimir Putin has forged a robust security partnership with Touadéra’s regime.

Since then, Russia is expanding its military and diplomatic involvement in the country, especially as violence intensifies in the Central African Republic. Last December 22, a few days before the Central African presidential election, several armed groups denounced the peace agreement signed in Khartoum in February 2019 and announced their regrouping within a "Coalition of Patriots for Change" [CPC] (whose new leadership is in the hands of Bozize, backed by France) while affirming their intention to "march on Bangui", the capital.

To this end, this coalition launched simultaneous and coordinated attacks from three main axes, in particular towards the locality of Bozoum, Bambari or even Sibut. The resumption of hostilities forced Russia to intervene alongside the FACA to regain control of several cities in the country. In another quick reprisal, Russia deployed 300 military instructors to the war-torn country at the request of CAR’s President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. And on 26 January, they helped CAR troops kill 44 rebels.

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