The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) issued a new report Aug. 30 on the Wagner Group’s activities in the Central African Republic and Mali, and it makes for chilling reading. The Russian mercenary group has targeted civilians in more than half of its operations in CAR (where it began operating in 2018) and over 70% in Mali (where it arrived last year). Its CAR deployment was initially limited to training the national armed forces, but it took on a direct combat role in late 2020 as rebels threatened the capital. It won praise for helping the state capture major towns, but abuses have now angered large parts of the civilian population. In jihadist-hit Mali, the mercenaries have also been involved in a number of high-profile abuses—mostly notably in the central town of Moura, where hundreds of non-combatants were massacred earlier this year.
Wagner has engaged in dozens of countries in recent years (and has stepped out of the shadows in Ukraine), yet its operations remain hard to scrutinize, and the Kremlin denies formal ties. Though Western nations have rightly called out Wagner crimes, critics charge that they rarely reflect on how their own policy failings (and abuses) have bolstered Russian influence.
From The New Humanitarian, Sept. 4.
See our last report on the Wagner Group.