Burkina Faso may become the next territory where "Wagnerʼs private military company" will operate.
Foreign Policy writes about it.
The US intelligence officials believe that Burkina Fasoʼs gold mines, recent coup, and lack of security could make the country a prime target for militants. In addition, PMC “Wagner” is already operating in neighboring Mali.
On January 25, a military coup took place in Burkina Faso. The army overthrew the president, seized the authorities and closed the borders. They informed that they detained President Roche Kabore and suspended the countryʼs constitution. The reasons for the coup were cited by the military as the deterioration of the security situation, in particular the inability of the president to unite the country and resist the spread of radical Islamism.
The publicationʼs sources also spoke about the services (apart from the transfer of mercenaries to the country) that can be provided to the politically unstable state by structures associated with "Putinʼs chef", Yevgeny Prigozhin. They can engage in shaping public opinion in social networks, holding elections and propaganda.
Some experts believe Russia is deliberately trying to capitalize on growing anti-French sentiment in the Sahel, a semi-arid strip of land that stretches across Africa from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east. In March, a wave of regional protests against Franceʼs military presence in the Sahel swept through a number of countries, including Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.
"There is no question that there is a kind of Russian influence campaign going on in these countries that serves a number of purposes," stated Cameron Hudson, an expert on US-Africa relations.
Russia has been increasing its influence in Africa in recent years. According to media reports, the fighters of PMC “Wagner" are present in Mali, CAR, Libya and Sudan. By providing military support, the group gets access to lucrative natural resource concessions. At the same time, mercenaries from PMC “Wagner" were repeatedly accused of violating human rights and killing civilians.
- At the beginning of 2021, France accused the Russian "Wagnerians" of plundering Maliʼs resources. Back in September 2021, it became clear that Russian military formations had entered the country. "PVK Wagner" occupied one of the abandoned French bases.
- On February 17, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the withdrawal of French and allied troops from Mali, who were conducting the Barkhan counter-terrorist operation. The decision was made against the background of disagreements with the ruling regime. The governmentʼs invitation to Mali of the "Wagnerians" was also cited as one of the reasons.