The news just broke earlier on Monday that Russia “sent several hundred soldiers and heavy weapons” to the Central African Republic to stave off an impending armed coup attempt there according to spokesman Ange Maxim Kazagui as cited by the Agence France Presse (AFP). The Kremlin has yet to confirm this report at the time of writing though President Putin’s spokesman Peskov voiced “deep concern” about the latest events there on the same day. Nevertheless, it’s likely that this actually did happen since it aligns with Moscow’s “Democratic Security” interests in Africa that I previously elaborated upon.
My May 2019 analysis about how “Russia’s Military Deal With The Congo Republic Completes Its African Transversal” cited eight of my prior works (some of which link to a defunct site whose articles can still be read by using the free Internet Archive service) explaining this concept. In a nutshell, Russia’s differential strategic value in the ongoing “Scramble for Africa” is its ability to commence low-cost and -commitment but potentially high-impact interventions aimed at thwarting Hybrid War plots in geostrategic states in exchange for preferential economic deals.
In the specific context of the Central African Republic, Russia was invited by its UN-recognized government to provide much-needed security assistance in stabilizing the country after its most recent civil war threatened to reach genocidal proportions. Moscow has since become Bangui’s indispensable security partner, hence why it reportedly rushed to its aid to prevent the impending armed coup attempt that the government there warned about over the weekend.
Russia isn’t alone in its commitment to the Central African Republic’s stability since the previously mentioned spokesman is also quoted as saying that several hundred Rwandan troops were dispatched as well and are already “on the ground and have started fighting.” I wrote back in June 2018 following Foreign Minister Lavrov’s successful trip to Rwanda that month that “Rwanda Is Poised To Play In Irreplaceable Role In Russia’s ‘Pivot To Africa’”, explaining that Moscow appreciates the fact that Kigali is a Central African military superpower despite serious controversies over its role in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) infamous wars.
It’s unclear at this time whether the Russians and Rwandans are coordinating with one another or operating separately, but it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s at least some communication between their military representatives in this respect considering the fact that they share the same goal of defending the Central African Republic’s internationally recognized government from an impending armed coup attempt. If successful, then Russia will likely leverage its “military diplomacy” to expand relations with Rwanda, which is one of Africa’s rapidly emerging tech and investment hubs, thus complementing Kigali’s Great Power “balancing” act.
As it stands, it’s too early to tell how far Russia’s reported intervention might go. There are just too many variables at play, including whether or not Russian and/or Rwandan troops will launch offensive operations against the rebels (be it independently or jointly). Moreover, the US might politicize the crisis by fearmongering about what it might dishonestly misportray as a “Russian invasion of Africa” in order to push for another round of sanctions against the Eurasian Great Power, perhaps in partnership with former colonial power France. In any case, it’s optimistically predicted that Russian forces will at least successfully defend the capital from capture.