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France alarmed over Wagner’s role in Sudan as Russia expands in Africa

Following instances of instability in Mali and Burkina Faso that saw Russia's influence rise in Africa, France is closely working with Egypt to reach a cease-fire and avoid similar scenario in Sudan.
Workers put final touches on the "PMC Wagner Centre", associated with businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner PMC (private military company) mercenary group, ahead of its opening in Saint Petersburg on October 31, 2022. - The centre offers free of charge spaces for inventors, project developers, IT specialists, experimental manufacturers and start-ups aimed at improving Russias defensive capacity, including information-wise. (Photo by Olga MALTSEVA / AFP) (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Get

PARIS — As it weighs its options in Sudan, French diplomacy is increasingly concerned about Russian role in the fighting through the mercenary group Wagner, as it tries to galvanize efforts behind a ceasefire. 

France is concerned that as in Mali, Russia could exploit the destabilization of Sudan to expand its influence in the country. The Russian Wagner Group has been present in the country since 2017, when it started offering training there, mostly to officers of Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo known as Hemedti who controls the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Wagner has also offered intelligence support to the Sudanese army. More recently, the group has taken over the management of some of the gold mines in Sudan, the New York Times reported last year. 

Reports since 2018 have revealed several visits to Khartoum by Wagner’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. Last November, Le Monde and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) published an investigative report, showing that Wagner has received access to Sudan’s natural resources, in exchange for policing equipment and training for the Sudanese army. 

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