The presence of private military organization ‘Wagner Group’ extends from the ancient battlefield of Syria to the sub-Saharan African region which reflects the Kremlin’s global influence with private troops, but after the alleged death of ‘Wagner’ chief in a private plane crash There is talk that its soldiers are facing uncertainty. Wagner is accused of using brute force and profiting from seized mineral wealth.

Until now the Wagner Group has been under the leadership of Yevgeny Prigozhin. In a video released earlier this week, Prigozhin is seen in military uniform with an assault rifle in an unknown dry and dusty field. This could also be his last video. In the video he claimed that Wagner was “making Russia greater on all continents and Africa more independent.”

A private jet carrying Prigozhin, head of the private military provider Wagner Group, and his top aides crashed northwest of Moscow on Wednesday. The incident occurred two months after Prigozhin led an armed rebellion challenging the authority of Russian President Vladimir Putin. There is widespread speculation that Prigozhin (reportedly dead) was targeted for assassination because of the rebellion. However, the Kremlin has denied involvement.

The crash has raised questions over the future of Prigozhin’s private army, the Wagner Group, which fought alongside Russian forces in Ukraine before its brief rebellion against military leadership in Moscow. Russian officials have cited the need to wait for the results of DNA testing to confirm Prigozhin’s death, but Putin has expressed condolences after the jet fell from the sky. The Russian leader has ordered Wagner Group soldiers to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian government, according to an order published late Friday on the Kremlin’s website and effective immediately.

The order came after the Kremlin on Friday rejected suggestions from Western officials and news media that the Wagner leader may have been killed on Putin’s orders. In African countries where Wagner provided security against groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State, officials and commentators anticipate that Russia will likely maintain its presence there by providing new leadership to the forces. However, others say Prigozhin had built deep and personal relationships and it could be challenging for Moscow to immediately replace him.

Africa is extremely important for Russia economically and politically. This summer Wagner helped secure a national referendum that strengthened the power of the president in the Central African Republic, a key partner of Mali’s military in fighting armed rebels, and has contacted the military junta in Niger. Who wants its services after the coup. Expanding ties and reducing Western influence in Africa are its top priorities as the Kremlin looks for new allies amid the war with Ukraine, where Wagner forces also helped win a key battle.

Africa’s 54 countries are the largest voting bloc in the UN and Moscow has worked actively to garner their support for its attack. US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday that Wagner’s troops were creating “destabilization.” We have encouraged countries in Africa to condemn their presence as well as their actions. The UK Defense Ministry said that Prigozhin’s death would certainly have a deep and destabilizing impact on the Wagner Group. But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment Friday on Wagner’s future.

Prigozhin founded the Wagner Group in 2014, whose aim was not only to increase Russia’s global influence. The group’s contractors in Syria, Libya, Sudan and elsewhere exploited those countries’ mineral and energy wealth to enrich themselves. Central African Republic legislator and opposition leader Martin Ziguele said the Wagner group was active in gold mining, timber and other industries without paying taxes. He said, “We can only conclude that this is looting. Under the agreement between Putin and Prigozhin after the rebellion, Wagner’s fighters went to Belarus in exchange for amnesty.

Although US officials have not confirmed that Russia or Wagner had any role in the coup in Niger, there are fears that the Kremlin could take advantage of it to weaken Western countries in West Africa. Mercenaries are active in Mali and they also have a suspicious presence in Burkina Faso. Niger residents say Prigozhin’s alleged death will not stop Russia from trying to expand its influence. “We believe Russia wants to establish its base here and become popular,” Barou Suleimanin, a tailor from Niamey, told AP. It’s clear they want to be here. A military junta seized power in Mali in 2020 and ordered the end of a decade-long UN peacekeeping mission, expelling French troops, diplomats and media.

Although not officially recognized by Mali’s government, Bagner’s troops are known to operate in the rural north, where rebel and extremist groups are active against the government. Human Rights Watch says Mali’s military, along with Wagner’s suspected mercenaries, are involved in massacres, looting and kidnappings. Ali Nouhoum Diallo, former president of the National Assembly, said, what we have experienced through Wagner is the genocide of our people.

Belarusian Hazun, a group that monitors Russian troops in Belarus, said on Thursday that satellite images showed that more than a third of the tents in the Wagner camp had been destroyed, indicating a possible escape. But President Alexander Lukashenko is insisting on keeping about 10,000 troops in Belarus, which has been strongly opposed by opposition parties. “Prigozhin’s death should end the Wagner Group’s presence in Belarus, reducing the threat to our country and its neighbors,” exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tikhanouskaya told AP.

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