After the Wagner rebellion in Russia, the question of the presence of the group's paramilitaries in Africa arose. Can Wagner survive? And if so, under what conditions?
"When we were fighting in Africa, we were told we needed Africa, and after that it was abandoned because all the money that was meant for aid was stolen." In one of his last Telegram speeches, the boss of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigojine, recalled his displeasure with Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, before trying to take Moscow. Evgueni Prigojine then explained that he did not intend to "betray" Russia, but that Wagner did not want "our country to continue to live in corruption, lies and bureaucracy".
To listen to Prigojine, therefore, Africa would be one of the reasons which pushed the ex-"Putin's cook" to turn against his president. It must be said that for five to six years, the continent has been one of the playgrounds of the paramilitary group. Central African Republic, Libya, but also Sudan, Mali and even Burkina Faso… The group has developed all over Africa.
But what will Wagner's rebellion change in Africa? Several observers believe that Prigojine's problems in Russia - he is currently trying to go to Belarus to escape the investigation that targets him - Wagner should continue his activities as normal. “Russian influence in Africa is not going to decline, however, says Kelian Sanz-Pascual, geopolitical analyst at Cassini Conseil, interviewed by RFI. Even if the researcher assures that “there will be a before and an after, including in Africa”.
Because the question that now arises is whether Prigojine will keep his job. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reappeared on television, like a snub to Wagner's boss who was targeting him particularly. If the Ministry of Defense tries to get its hands on Wagner, then Prigojine may well not be the boss in the days to come.
The fall of Prigojine, the maintenance of Wagner?
Still, it's not simple: despite the desire of the Ministry of Defense to take over the reins of the paramilitary group, the decision will necessarily return to Vladimir Putin. Whatever happens, Wagner will remain ubiquitous on the continent, whether with or without Prigojine. Because when States contract with Wagner, they sign first and foremost with Moscow. Prigojine thanked, Russia will even have the possibility of replacing Wagner by another private company.
But what could Prigojine have negotiated with Putin to put an end to his rebellion operations? His departure for Belarus shows that the boss of Wagner is no longer welcome, for the moment, in Russia. What if Putin left his ex-ally, as a consolation prize, the possibility of continuing his operations far from Moscow? Africa would then be a good base for Prigojine, who could concentrate on his African activities.
Be that as it may, Russia will most certainly refuse to leave its seat empty in Africa. Eyes are also on the leaders of countries that have signed with Wagner. Because, from now on, it is clear that the paramilitary group is capable of trying to overthrow any president. Enough to frighten even the most seasoned generals, in the event that Prigojine remains at the head of the company.
For the sake of Russian-African relations, a takeover of Wagner by the Kremlin therefore risks being imposed.