Russia has opened a Defense Ministry representative office in the Central African Republic. The office is Moscow’s latest effort to expand its influence on the continent. Moscow also donated 10 armored vehicles to the CAR.
Vladimir Titorenko, Russia’s Ambassador in CAR, also said that Moscow airlifted a second batch of 10 BRDM-2 armored personnel vehicles to Bangui. The vehicles came as a gift. The first batch arrived on Oct. 15.
Titorenko further said that Moscow was considering expanding its pool of military instructors in CAR. The moves come after President Vladimir Putin’s intent to revive Soviet-era influence and challenge other powers’ foothold in resource-rich Africa.
Russia has increased its activities in Africa in recent years. The activities include military support, nuclear energy and other services in exchange for mining rights.
Russia has donated small arms and sent trainers in recent years to bolster the government’s fight against militia groups in the CAR. Russia also sent senior officer Oleg Polguev together with other five members of the military. Polguev will lead the Russian Defense Ministry’s representative office in CAR. The senior officer will also advise the country’s defense ministry.
The UN Security Council had cleared Russia to deliver arms to CAR in 2017. Since 2013, CAR has faced near-constant armed conflict. Violence started when a mostly Muslim rebel coalition overthrew the country’s then-president. Reprisals from Christian militias followed throwing the country into constant conflict.
“Russia’s strategic goal in the CAR is to establish full central government control over the entire territory of the country and strengthen the armed forces,” said Titorenko.