Wagner's boss, Evgueni Prigojine, has announced that he no longer wants to fight in Ukraine and wants to send his men back to Africa.
While many observers thought, after the rebellion of Wagner's soldiers, that the Russian paramilitary group was about to leave Africa - the last movements of the group's soldiers in the Central African Republic had then made a lot of talk — it could ultimately be the opposite. Evgueni Prigojine, the boss of the group, who has forged relations with several presidents of the continent, has indeed just published a new video in which he continues to fire red balls at Vladimir Putin and announces that he wants to focus on the continent.
Prigojine addresses, in this video, several members of Wagner. Without knowing when the video was shot, or where – probably in Belarus, while several sources claimed that Yevgueni Prigojine was still in Russia – he explains that he wants to leave the Ukrainian front. “You have done a lot for Russia. What is happening at the front today is a disgrace in which we do not have to participate,” he says.
In this same video, Prigojine develops its future strategy. It will be a question, explains the boss of Wagner, of staying in Belarus “for a certain time”, then of leaving “on a new path, towards Africa”. This "is not the end, but the beginning of a great work that will soon be completed", warns the head of the Russian group.
Diplomatic puzzle for CAR and Mali
Does this mean that Prigojine will, against the advice of the Russian government, continue its activities in Africa? For this, he will first have to convince the heads of state with whom he worked before the rebellion. Because, whether in Mali or in the Central African Republic, this will be a real diplomatic headache for the presidents of these two countries. The Russian Foreign Minister explained that, "in addition to these relations with the Wagner organization, the governments of the Central African Republic and Mali have official contacts with our government".
The Central African presidency had, a few weeks ago, tried to kick in touch when being questioned on the future of the contract between the CAR and Wagner. Faustin-Archange Touadéra's adviser had indeed indicated that, if the group will "perhaps change leaders", Wagner's soldiers "will continue to operate on behalf of Russia" in the Central African Republic. Will Touadéra continue to work with Prigojine or will this risk darkening his relations with the Kremlin?
That's the whole dilemma. For his part, in any case, Wagner assures, on the Russian messengers, that the African governments were now in "direct" contact with Wagner and that "official Russia has nothing to do with that". And Wagner warns: “Employees of the Russian Ministry of Defense do not work in the Central African Republic”.
It's clear: Bangui risks becoming the scene of the confrontation between Wagner and Moscow. Because if the RCA claims to have contracted with the Kremlin, Prigojine seems to think the opposite. And, with his men, he intends to recover his contracts which, according to Russian sources, have been redirected to another commercial structure. A way for Prigojine to return to Africa through the window?