Pull Out

Central African Republic: Wagner repatriates several hundred men

By Benjamin Roger, Mathieu Olivier

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Posted on July 10, 2023 14:34

Yevgeny Prigozhin, 25 May 2023. (AFP/Concord Group)
Yevgeny Prigozhin, 25 May 2023. (AFP/Concord Group)

Two weeks after Yevgeny Prigozhin’s aborted rebellion in Russia, hundreds of Wagner mercenaries in the Central African Republic returned to Moscow.

According to our sources, as many as 500 to 600 have left Bangui in the last few hours, having been demobilised, particularly from Birao, Sido, and Batangafo. Two flights left M’Poko airport in the Central African capital for Moscow. Another Ilyushin aircraft is standing by in Bangui.

According to sources close to Prigozhin‘s group, the mercenaries are responding to a summons. Under pressure from the Kremlin, Wagner is reportedly preparing to review his organisation and tell his men that from now on they will answer more to the Russian Ministry of Defence. A certain number of troops should then return to the Central African Republic.

On the other hand, one of Prigozhin’s lieutenants is likely to suffer as a result of this reshuffling: Vitali Perfilev. According to the same source, Wagner’s number one in Bangui could be replaced by another commander considered to be closer to the interests of the Ministry of Defence and less closely linked to Prigozhin, who was briefly in exile in Belarus and on the hot seat since his attempted rebellion on 23 June.

The Central African government and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra are extremely interested in the Wagner Group’s future. The latter is counting on this ally – which still has 800 to 900 men in the country after the departures on 6 July – to provide security in certain regions of the country, as well as for the referendum on 30 July.

In Mali, no repatriation has yet been organised. Since the Prigozhin rebellion, there have only been the usual Ilyushin airlifts from Bamako airport. According to Western intelligence estimates, around 1,400 Wagner mercenaries remain present in the country.

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