The Long arms(s) of the State: The role of the Wagner Group in Russia’s pivot to Africa, 2017-2022

The Wagner Group’s presence and operations on the continent of Africa have sparked concerns and debate across both local media and international platforms alike. First thought to be just another Russian mercenary group, the Wagner Group exists as part of a greater network of companies and soldiers. The greater Wagner Group network has close links with key Russian government actors and agencies, and the network has proliferated in close concert with increased overtures and activity on the part of the Russian state. This apparent interweaving of public and private actors begs the question of how independent the Wagner Group and connected companies really are, or, to put it more bluntly, to what extent this network operates as another, unofficial arm of the Russian state versus as a private actor seeking independent gain and profit.

This project aims to examine Russian official and paramilitary moves in central Africa 2017-May 2022 with an emphasis on the outsized role of the greater Wagner Group network, looking at the interplay of motivations and receptions from the Russian and African perspectives.

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