Abuja, Nigeria—Notorious Russian Wagner Group abandoned dozens of former Central African Republic (CAR) rebels recruited to fight in the Donbass region of Ukraine Vladimir Putin’s Wartwo former CAR fighters told The Daily Beast.
CAR sources, recruited by Wagner after quitting the United Peace Coalition (UPC) rebel group last December, say many of the roughly 100 former UPC fighters now in Ukraine are part of what the group trained them to do. and lost contact with Wagner after flying them to the Donbass area about eight months ago.
“Some colleagues called us [on the phone] To let us know that the Russian soldiers who took them to eastern Ukraine placed them in certain towns and left them to fight on their own,” said Ali, who was part of the group sent to Ukraine. “As we speak, they haven’t been paid for months and can’t even feed themselves.” I changed the names of the black Russians in the story to protect against the possibility.)
According to Ali, some former UPC recruits, often referred to as “black Russians” in the Central African Republic, now have to “steal from civilians” to survive difficulties in Ukraine. I have.
More than 200 former UPC rebels traveled to Moscow for military training in February, the same month Russia invaded Ukraine. Military training was initially expected to last several weeks at Wagner Camp. Who spoke to The Daily Beast in MarchOnly half returned to the country that month, the rest remained in Russia for deployment in Ukraine.
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“By mid-March, everyone [the Black Russians] I was fighting for Russia in eastern Ukraine,” said Hassan, who, like Ali, wasn’t among the black Russians sent to Ukraine, has kept in touch with some of his colleagues there, according to the Daily Beast. “But our people now say they were left alone. [Russian] Commander. no one is taking care of them. ”
Hassan said the situation was “horrible” for black Russians in Ukraine, and he spoke with three colleagues in November, saying they were all afraid for their lives. “They told me they didn’t even have the ammunition to fight,” Hassan said. “Some people haven’t seen their co-workers for months.”
Prior to joining Wagner, the rebels were part of a coalition of fighters from major rebel groups created in 2020 to disrupt the Central African general elections.
Last December, hundreds of UPC rebels began surrendering to the CAR government, the leaders of the UPC, which had been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) nearly a year earlier. rice field. Both the government and the Wagner Group provided incentives for the rebels to abandon his UPC, including promising that the combatants would work closely with his CAR forces and Wagner’s mercenaries to fight other rebels. Did. Fighters in his thirties like Ali and Hassan changed sides, hoping they would be well served. But like their colleagues in Ukraine now, they are not doing so well at home.
For most of this year, black Russians have received no payment from Wagner or the CAR government, which promised to give them monthly scholarships, according to Ali and Hassan. Still, they continue to work closely with Wagner, united under the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), to fight domestic rebel groups seeking to overthrow the government of President Faustin Alshange Tuadera. increase.
“It’s very difficult to work with the Russians because they don’t trust us,” Hassan said. “Often, they move us around the country with them without telling us exactly where we are going.”
But most disturbing to Ali and Hassan is the fact that dozens of CAR colleagues have disappeared without a trace in recent months.
“In the last two months, up to 50 colleagues have mysteriously disappeared,” says Ali. “No one knows where they are and the Russians have not answered questions about their whereabouts.”
There is suspicion among black Russians in the Central African Republic that the missing colleague may have been sent to Ukraine to fight for Russia, but according to Ali, “no one is sure. Hmm”.
“We also have several people who suspect that they were sent to the country or abroad for dangerous missions and were killed in the process,” Ali said. “These Russians do everything in secret, so no one may ever know the truth.”
Ali and Hassan decided to move away from Wagner last week out of fear that they too would go missing. They are not the only ones. As many as 30 former UPC rebels have recently left the group, they said. 1 local publication even if you put the number Number of black Russians who have ever broken up with Wagner at the age of 40.
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Neither the government of the Central African Republic nor Evgeny Prigozhin, a close friend of Putin who runs the Wagner Group, responded to emails sent to them by The Daily Beast seeking comment on Ali and Hassan’s allegations. Emails sent to a Central African Republic government spokesman and to Concord Management, the company majority-owned by Prigogine, did not receive a response.
Despite allegations of poor treatment and mysterious disappearances, a significant number of black Russians continue to work with the Wagner Group. No more time.
“If we don’t go away, one day people will say we’re missing,” Hassan said. “With these Russians, anything is possible.”
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