Hossam Sadek

Many details about the paramilitary group’s day-long uprising in Russia are still unknown, particularly as to how it would affect the group’s influence in Africa and the Middle East.

Last Saturday, Russian Wagner Group paramilitaries rebelled against Russian army leaders by taking control of Rostov and then moving toward Moscow before Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brokered an agreement to end the rebellion . 

The agreement did not detail the future of the Wagner Group, particularly its role in various regions such as Africa and the Middle East.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently announced in press releases that the Wagner group would continue its operations in Mali and the Central African Republic . 

Lavrov explained that Europe and France , “by abandoning the Central African Republic and Mali,” caused the two countries to open up to Russia and the Wagner group in order to recruit military trainers and “ensure the safety of their leaders «.

According to a BBC report , the mercenary force is active in many countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Libya, Sudan, Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and Madagascar. 

The Wagner fighters are accused of atrocities in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic and Mali, which were often committed against unarmed civilians. According to Russian reports, however, they train local forces and provide security.

Most influential Russian representative

According to a research paper from the Future Center for Studies , Wagner is “considered the most influential Russian representative in the Middle East and Africa because of his commitment to promoting Russian interests in the two regions.” 

The group’s operations “typically went beyond security efforts to include sectors such as logging and mining,” the paper said. 

Some African countries have relied heavily on Wagner to ensure their security, so a decline in the group’s role or even its dissolution “could expose those countries to severe shocks in the future.”

A diplomatic source at the United Nations, who has been following Wagner closely for years, told Britain’s BBC that the group’s units in Africa would no longer receive support from the Russian authorities if the dispute with the Russian government smoldered and remained unresolved. 

The Wagner fighters could then be left “with no income, no political or military support, particularly in African countries such as Central African Republic, Libya, Sudan and Mali.” cooperation with local parties in these states are available, which can fuel internal conflicts.

However, an analysis by Sky News Arabia suggests a different scenario for Wagner’s future in Africa, predicting a continuation of the group’s activities on the African continent with a new and more independent approach from Moscow, which will draw on the major networks that she has built up lately.

Furthermore, the analysis goes on, “Wagner will continue to spread and grow in Africa if Western partners do not work to improve relations with their African partners, especially given the large security vacuum that African countries face in the face of terrorist groups or internal confronted with civil wars”.

In summary, Wagner will not suddenly and directly disappear from Africa and the Middle East after the recent rebellion, but that the group will continue to play their old role for a while, albeit in a more independent manner, before Moscow abolishes them in the wake of newer security – and can replace military formulas with other actors.


Hossam Sadek is currently completing his master’s degree in political science at the University of Vienna. Since 2012 he has been working as a journalist for media in the Arab world and Europe, such as Shorouk and Al-Watan in Egypt, the Turkish news agency Anadol and the German BILD newspaper.


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