Russia is in negotiations with the Central African Republic (CAR) to establish a Russian military base in the country, aiming to further exert influence in the region, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its assessment on Jan. 18.
"The Kremlin continues efforts to expand Russia‘s influence in Africa through the Russian Ministry of Defense controlled Africa Corps and is likely attempting to expand the Africa Corps’ operations in Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and CAR," the ISW wrote in its report.
Fidel Ngouandika, an advisor to the president of the CAR, confirmed the African nation's intention to house a Russian military presence in the region.
"The government has already provided a plot of land in Berengo, a place 80 kilometers west of the country’s capital, Bangui," Ngouandika said in a statement to Russian state media outlet TASS. Ngouandika added that existing infrastructure allows for the deployment of 10,000 Russian troops to the country.
The ISW notes that the two countries have yet to finalize the size of the potential Russian contingent in CAR or the date of its arrival.
Russia's presence and influence in the the landlocked country has been significant in recent year. According to Reuters, Russia first sent security contractors from Russia's Wagner Group to CAR in 2018, and provided 1,500 troops, including instructors and soldiers to fight alongside the country's army. Some of the mercenaries are part of CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera's security detail.
Russia's Wagner Group has also been linked to several mining companies across the Central African Republic, engaged in illicit gold mining and trading in Africa.
The ISW assess that ongoing negotiations to deploying forces to the CAR indicate that Russia may have offset some of the manpower shortages that the Russian military experienced in 2022 and 2023.