Russian Troops Begin Burkina Faso Deployment to Bolster Security

(Bloomberg) -- Russia bolstered its influence in the troubled Sahel region of West Africa with about 100 military personnel from the country arriving in Burkina Faso on Wednesday, the first large deployment in that nation.

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The troops, the initial contingent of a planned force three times that size, will provide security for Ibrahim Traoré, the president of the country’s military regime, and the Burkinabe people, the Russian Africa Corps said in a statement posted on its Telegram channel.

The “military specialists” carrying equipment and weapons will train Burkinabe troops and patrol dangerous areas, The Africa Initiative, a pro-Russia group, said in a statement on Telegram.

Russia, first through Kremlin-backed Wagner Group mercenaries and now through the creation of the Africa Corps, has been extending its influence in countries including Mali and the Central African Republic. Like Mali, which is also ruled by the military, Burkina Faso is fighting jihadists and has rejected help from former colonial power France, which had troops in both countries.

The military government in Burkina Faso has failed to restore security after taking power in September 2022.

The Africa Corps is set to replace Wagner, whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash last year after leading, and then abandoning, a march on Moscow. Prigozhin had quarreled with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s generals over how that country’s war with Ukraine was being conducted.

The Africa Initiative posted images of the troops and military aircraft, arriving in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital.

A spokesman for the country’s military government declined to comment when called.

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