Dmitri Syty, the head of the Russian House in the Central African Republic, posted a photo on Facebook on Thursday showing Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, in a meeting with a representative from the country. This comes after Prigozhin was reported to have been in his hometown of St. Petersburg even after the near-coup on June 24.
The surprise of his re-emergence in Russia has left Russian media questioning his newfound acceptance, especially considering his recent meeting with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. The photo was shared widely on social media platforms, including channels linked to the Wagner Group, although local media reported that the meeting took place in Prigozhin’s Trezzini Palasthotel, not at the ExpoForum where the summit was held amid heavy security measures.
Prigozhin’s Involvement in Africa
Prigozhin has been operating his private army, the Wagner Group, which recently established a base in Belarus, in several African countries. Apart from pursuing his own business interests, he also represents Russian interests in the region. After Wagner fighters killed numerous Russian pilots during an uprising, Putin granted Prigozhin immunity. In return, the Wagner Group agreed to relocate to neighboring Belarus, where they are now reportedly involved in training soldiers, using their combat experience from the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s Second Africa Summit
Russia’s second Africa summit, commencing in St. Petersburg, aims to strengthen cooperation with African nations. The focal point of the summit includes Russian grain and fertilizer deliveries to African countries, following Moscow’s decision to terminate the agreement for shipping Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. This move has drawn international criticism as it affects world food prices, as both Ukrainian and Russian grain are considered crucial in the fight against global hunger. Additionally, the summit seeks to enhance trade relations, with Russia being a key arms supplier to Africa.
Addressing Isolation Concerns
Despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, President Putin intends to demonstrate that Russia is not isolated on the international stage during meetings with various African leaders. He also plans to continue discussions on the African states’ peace initiative for resolving the Ukraine conflict, which began in June in St. Petersburg.
Yevgeny Prigozhin’s reappearance in Russia after being linked to the Wagner Group’s activities in Africa and his recent meeting with President Putin have generated significant interest and discussions. Meanwhile, Russia’s second Africa summit serves as a platform to foster trade, address food security, and showcase Russia’s commitment to engaging with African nations despite ongoing international tensions. The outcomes of these interactions may have far-reaching implications for Russia’s influence in Africa and its standing in the global community.