London – Al-Quds Al-Arabi: The Guardian newspaper published statements quoted by its Johannesburg correspondent, Jason Burke, about an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which he said that the dying West would be defeated by Russia. word.
In an attempt to communicate with Yevgeny Prigozhin about the massacre of which Wagner mercenaries associated with him were accused in Mali, he said: “I have always said that the Wagner group does not exist” and ” I have absolutely nothing to do with it. ” The well-known businessman close to the Kremlin added: “You, the dying West, regard the Russians, the Malians, the inhabitants of the Central African Republic, the Cubans, the Nicaraguans and a large number of people as scum. in the Third World, “and” remember that this is not true. Billions and victory will be ours. “
Prigogine said he was following the events in Mali, where “the West, ie the United States, Britain, France and the rest of the countries, followed the policy of enslaving Africa and planting organized terrorist groups in Mali.” This was done to “instill fear in the hearts of the people of this country, to plunder the natural revolution and to cancel the money allocated to the so-called peace operations.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed on Sunday that Wagner was active in Mali and Libya. Lavrov told an Italian television station that the company operated in two African countries “for commercial purposes” and reiterated the official position that Wagner “has no relationship with the Russian state.” Western officials believe the Kremlin is trying to use the company to expand Russia’s economic and political interests on the African continent and other regions.
The group linked to human rights violations in Syria and Ukraine has deployed fighters and advisers to a number of countries after it was exposed in 2014, when it supported pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Prigogine said accusations of massacres and other human rights abuses were unfounded: “Any terrorist killed by the Malian army is generally portrayed as a civilian by the West. “As for the alleged crimes, neither I nor the men I know or the Malian army had anything to do with it.”
The businessman accused the French army of mercilessly killing civilians and burying the bodies “not far from military bases”. France sent troops to Mali in 2012, when Islamists and other rebel groups took control of areas in northern Mali. President Emmanuel Macron announced last year that his forces would leave Mali after relations with the ruling military elite collapsed. The French military said last month that Wagner’s soldiers had buried the bodies of millions near a military base and accused the departing French forces of burying civilians in mass graves. He confirmed he had photos taken by drones showing white soldiers covering bodies in the sand near Gossi base in Mali.
Prigogine was charged by the United States in 2018 with funding an online operation to influence the 2016 US presidential election. He is also accused of trying to influence public opinion in Africa through fake accounts on social media platforms, where Facebook has deleted accounts that are believed to belong. Wagner.
Prigogine accused the Guardian of spreading “false, false and falsified” news. “You spat in my face, in the face of patriotic Russians and the Malian people,” he said. He added that there is an example that says, “Do not try to urinate in the face of the storm, for you will drown in the spray.” He pointed out that the massacres committed “are in your inflamed and infected brain with the infection of Nazism,” as Prigogine told the author.
Burke referred to what Western officials said earlier this year that Wagner represented the “sharp point of the wedge” and “Trojan horse” of Russian efforts to secretly expand to resource-rich countries in Africa.
In Mali, the company has filled the void left by French forces that have led international efforts over the past decade against rebel groups. Those efforts failed, even though they included the largest peacekeeping mission in the world, while violence spread from Mali to the Sahel countries, displacing tens of millions and destabilizing fragile states such as Niger and Burkina Faso.
“Wagner is one of Russia’s ways to spread influence and expand economic and other interests in Africa,” said Jared Thompson, a research fellow in the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He added that “Wagner arrived in Mali when the financial officials went to Russia, and Moscow sold arms to Bamako, which certainly indicates that Wagner’s deployment was part of this effort.”
Although the company helped government forces in the Central African Republic confront the rebels, its intervention in Mozambique against Islamic militants was a bloody failure. Analysts say Wagner’s methods in Mali could lead to a negative reaction among the local population. “The Russians are like a cow in a Chinese food store, they do not know or care about the ethnic dynamics,” says Kroni Duvka, a human rights researcher in the Sahel. “Their behavior, with the complicity of financial officials, is deepening ethnic tensions and creating many new jihadists as a result of their actions,” she added.
Catherine Evans, director of the Independent Diplomats Group, says that Mali is facing a rebellion over the way it is governed, and that a military solution alone does not work with it, and could exacerbate existing problems.