Russia intends to form special military forces known as the “African Corps” as an alternative to mercenaries WagnerBut in a different form and tasks, and perhaps more influential on Libya and the rest of the African countries, according to what Anatolia Agency reported from the Russian newspaper Vedomosti.
The newspaper said that Moscow has begun forming the corps to replace Wagner's forces, and its structure is supposed to be completed by the summer of 2024, so that it will be present in 5 African countries.
She added that the Corps will be active in Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali, the Central African Republic and Niger, and will report directly to the military administration, and will be supervised by General Yunusbek Yevkurov, Deputy Minister of Russian Defense.
In addition to the newspaper's report, an American statement was later issued regarding the “African Corps”, but no official Russian statement was issued regarding it, and neither the Libyan authorities nor the “eastern Libya” forces affiliated with the retired major general commented on it. Khalifa Haftar.
Features and objectives of the corps
Adel Abdul Kafi, an expert and former military advisor to the Supreme Commander of the Libyan Army, told Anadolu Agency, “The actual steps to establish the Russian-African Legion began after the assassination of Wagner’s founder.” Yevgeny Prigozhin In a plane crash last August, the Russian Ministry of Defense took steps to reach an understanding with Haftar regarding dealing with Wagner’s new leadership.”
Abdul Kafi added that the Russian Defense took other steps to establish the Corps, including making Libya its main center, and reaching an understanding with Haftar during Yevkurov’s repeated visits to the city of Benghazi (east).
He explained that the Corps includes Russian, Syrian, and African elements, given the tasks that will be assigned to it, which are further penetration into Africa under names, including the protection of oil and gold sites that Wagner was able to reach.
Abdel Kafi added that one of the Corps’ tasks is also to supply rebel groups within African countries with weapons to support rebellious operations. Russia has adopted a policy of hybrid warfare on levels including supporting rebel and separatist groups… that is, unconventional and traditional wars.
He explained that the nucleus of the Corps is the Wagner groups, with the integration of more elements. We are talking about a force of no less than 40 to 45 thousand fighters, as it consists of two to five divisions depending on the combat capabilities and size of the elements.
Russia has the potential to recruit more elements, and a clear strategy, which is to penetrate Africa and overthrow regimes that were loyal to the United States and European allies, as it seeks to establish other regimes by supporting rebellion and secession operations, says Abdel Kafi.
In Libya, Wagner elements are active in the city of Sirte (450 kilometers east of the capital, Tripoli), where they are stationed at Al-Qardabiya Air Base and its sea port, in addition to Al-Jufra Air Base (south), and Brak Al-Shati Air Base (700 kilometers south of Tripoli).
The headquarters is in Libya.. Why?
Abdel Kafi said that Russia is interested in being present in Libya because of its connection to the Mediterranean coast, which is a strategic location for delivering military supplies and elements of the Corps to other African countries.
He added that Libya is a major corridor, especially in light of reports that confirmed Russia's intention to establish a naval base in the city of Tobruk (east) as a concentration point, to facilitate the arrival of battleships and naval vessels loaded with weapons, equipment, and air defense systems.
After the establishment of the naval base, according to Abdel Kafi, all supplies will be sent to the center of Libya, which Russia has become largely dominated by, through its positioning in the Al-Jufra base (central) and some dirt bases and airstrips in central and southern Libya.
Since the beginning of 2022, there have been two governments in Libya, one of which is headed by Osama Hammad, and was appointed by the House of Representatives (east), and the other is recognized by the United Nations, which is the National Unity Government (headquartered in Tripoli-west), headed by Abdul Hamid Al-Dabaiba Who refuses to hand over power except to a government assigned by a new elected parliament.
Abdel Kafi stressed that Haftar’s participation in the Corps is very important, given his connection to Russian expansion, and he believes that Moscow is his strongest and most successful ally so that he can remain in the scene and continue to control the eastern and southern regions.
Ending the era of French Africa
According to political activist Wissam Abdel Kabir, in an interview with Anadolu Agency, by establishing the Corps, Russia seeks to penetrate the rest of the African countries to tighten control over them by installing new rulers who take Russian interests into account and end the interests of the West and the era of French Africa, and this is what we saw in the Niger coup.
Abdul Kabir, a member of the Political Forces Group of the Fezzan Province (south), added that the Russian penetration targets many countries, as the project is still expanding and beginning to spread, so the Corps will help tighten Russian control over sources of wealth and political systems, so that Russia will take a role with important support from its economic ally. China.
Political analyst Faraj Farkash told Anadolu Agency that Russia has been seeking for some time to exploit the vacuum created by the American withdrawal from Africa, as Moscow has strengthened its presence in Africa to find allies, especially in light of the increasing African rejection of the European presence.
He added that Russia is trying to present itself as a country that supports the independence of African countries, away from the European colonial era.