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Putin Offers ‘Regime Survival Package’ to African Leaders Through Rebranded Wagner Mercenary Group

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A recent report reveals Vladimir Putin’s strategic efforts to extend Russia’s influence in Africa by providing authoritarian leaders with a “regime survival package” facilitated by its rebranded Wagner mercenary group, now known as the Expeditionary Corps. This initiative underscores Russia’s ambition to challenge Western dominance in the continent and establish a network of states aligned with its interests.

The Expeditionary Corps, formerly Wagner, was brought under direct state control following the demise of its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who met his demise in a mysterious plane explosion. Now, the corps serves as a linchpin in President Vladimir Putin’s endeavors to diminish Western influence across Africa.

Putin Offers 'Regime Survival Package' to African Leaders Through Rebranded Wagner Mercenary Group

According to a report from the Royal United Services Institute think tank, the Kremlin leverages the Expeditionary Corps to cultivate an “Entente Roscolonial” of states inclined towards supporting Russia while becoming increasingly subservient to its influence. By capitalizing on African disillusionment with the West, Russian officials portray Western interventions as indifferent to African interests and sovereignty.

Russian commanders deploy tactics such as assuming control of valuable resources like gold mines or mineral deposits to finance operations and minimize costs for African governments. This strategy has already been deployed in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, leading these nations to downgrade ties with former Western allies, notably France.

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Jack Watling, an author of the report, elucidated the allure of Russia’s proposition, emphasizing the contrast with Western approaches. He stated, “The West has been coming to you and telling you how you should behave. And they haven’t solved the problems because they’ve ultimately been interested in killing jihadists that they don’t like, rather than killing people who are rebels that you don’t like.”

Moreover, Russia’s flexible financing model, where operational costs are self-generating, appeals to African nations, offering them autonomy and operational control without the burden of loans or indebtedness. For instance, in Mali, where approximately 2,000 Wagner troops are stationed, the government is amending mining regulations to allocate concessions to Russian entities.

PutinAs the conflict in Ukraine reaches an impasse, Russia is expanding its strategic endeavors, notably in Africa. The Expeditionary Corps, now under the leadership of Gen Andrey Averyanov, represents a pivotal instrument in Russia’s broader geopolitical ambitions, challenging Western influence and promoting its interests across the African continent.

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