US says Russia shows Africa how Wagner brings 'death and destruction'


Mercenaries. Mercenary outfits like the Wagner Group – a quasi-private military company – are a placeholder for Moscow’s geopolitical interests in Africa.

Photo credit: Courtesy

The United States on Monday renewed warnings to African nations of what it called the risks of partnering with Wagner mercenaries after they staged a mutiny against the Russian state.

The United States renews "the message that we have given to these countries publicly and privately in the past, which is that any time Wagner enters the country, death and destruction follow," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

"You see Wagner exploit local populations, we see them extract local wealth, we see them commit human rights abuses," he said.

"What happened over the weekend would reinforce the concerns we stated about the instability that Wagner brings with it when it enters into conflict," Miller said.

The Russian paramilitary group has been increasingly active in Africa, with Mali's military junta hiring the mercenaries and siding with Russia diplomatically after relations deteriorated with former colonial power France.

The UN human rights body last month reported that foreign forces -- identified by the United States as Wagner -- were behind the massacre of at least 500 people in the central Malian town of Moura in March 2022.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in an interview with state-run RT, said Monday that the Russian "instructors" will continue their work in both Mali and the Central African Republic.

Lavrov said Europe and France in particular had "abandoned" the two African countries, which had in turn asked Russia and Wagner to provide military instructors and "to ensure the security of their leaders."

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin staged a brief mutiny over the weekend, with his forces advancing toward Moscow before striking a deal in which the Kremlin said he would be able to go safely to Belarus.