Wagner not planning reduction in Africa presence, says group's chief

Wagner not planning reduction in Africa presence, says group's chief

Reports claiming Wagner is leaving several African nations amount to 'rumors' by 'unfriendly states,' says Yevgeny Prigozhin

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) — The Wagner paramilitary group has no plans to downscale its presence in African countries following an aborted mutiny against Russia's military chiefs, its chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has said.

"We are not cutting (the staff), and moreover, we are ready to increase our presence. At the moment, all obligations are being fulfilled and will be fulfilled at all costs," Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a phone interview with Cameroon-based outlet AfriqueMedia released online on Tuesday.

"Not a single word that I or the representatives of our company gave will be violated," Prigozhin said.

Prigozhin had shared no information on the interview on his personal social media pages or on those of Wagner. But several days ago, he posted a photo with AfriqueMedia's director, Justin Tagouh, on the sidelines of the 2nd Russia-Africa summit, which took place in St. Petersburg on July 27-28.

"We are ready to develop relations with African countries. We currently have a large number of trained fighters who have passed, as they say, fire, water, and copper pipes and are ready to perform a large number of tasks to combat terrorism and gangs," Prigozhin said.

Commenting on the situation in the Central African Republic, Prigozhin said his group had carried out a "planned rotation," adding that "fresh forces" had arrived.

"We control the territory of the republic, and we are confident that the gangs will not be able to harm the population. At the moment, rumors of a reducing presence are nothing but the machinations of unfriendly states.

"Everything is going as planned and none of our actions diverge from the interests of the states in which we are located, which are in friendly relations with Russia," he stressed.

Prigozhin on June 24 accused the Russian Defense Ministry of attacking the group's fighters on positions in Ukraine, and set off toward Moscow with the declared goal of overthrowing them.

The Russian Federal Security Service designated the group's action "an armed rebellion" and opened a criminal case against Prigozhin, while President Vladimir Putin called the private military company's uprising an act of "treason."

Prigozhin later turned back "to avoid bloodshed," and has since then reportedly moved to Belarus under deal brokered by that country's leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Before joining Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine, the Wagner group had been working for some time in several African countries, including the Central African Republic and Mali.

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