ua en ru

Former Wagner Group members from African Corps transfer to Belgorod region

Former Wagner Group members from African Corps transfer to Belgorod region Part of the Wagner Group members from Africa transfer to the border of Ukraine with Russia (photo: Getty Images)

The Russian military command is preparing to relocate some former members of the Wagner Group who served in the African Corps to the Belgorod region, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The report cites an insider source that on April 15 informed about the failure by Lieutenant General Andrei Averyanov, the head of the Main Directorate of Military Intelligence of Russia, to meet the Kremlin's deadlines for creating a Ministry of Defense-controlled African Corps.

Due to this, the source reports the Russian government is preparing to relocate unspecified units of the African Corps from Africa to the Belgorod region.

"The Wagner Group’s ongoing efforts to recruit personnel for its activities in Africa are actually meant to recruit personnel to deploy to Belgorod region. Russian Africa Corps soldiers deployed to Niger on April 12, and it is unclear if the insider source is claiming that the Africa Corps will cease operations in Africa completely or if only some Africa Corps detachments will redeploy to the Ukrainian-Russian border area," the report states.

It is noted that Averyanov previously participated in a Russian delegation that met with officials in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali, and seems to have played an active role in Russian government efforts regarding the absorption of the Wagner Group.

"Averyanov is notably the commander of GRU unit 29155, who is responsible for the 2018 assassination attempt against Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom and whom a joint investigation by 60 Minutes, Der Spiegel, and the Insider has recently implicated in non-lethal directed energy or acoustic weapons attacks against US government personnel within the US and internationally," the ISW report said.

Activities of the African Corps

African Corps was created in November 2023 and is an initiative of the Russian Ministry of Defense to strengthen Russian military presence in the Middle East and Africa. The unit is specifically tasked with solving large-scale and complex tasks to counter the neocolonial influence of the West and undermine its resource base in African countries.

After the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, some of the Wagner PMC militants were transferred to Belarus. However, later, some fighters signed contracts and travelled to Africa due to a lack of funding from the Russian Federation.

In September, the Kremlin relocated most of the Wagner PMC militants from Belarus to Niger, Libya, Sudan, Mali, the Central African Republic, and Mozambique. In all these countries, Moscow has its colonial and geopolitical interests, supporting their military juntas and coup plotters.

In early December, the Institute for the Study of War reported that Russia was trying to interfere in the situation in unstable African countries, using the activity of Wagner PMC militants in the Central African Republic.

At the end of December last year, the African Corps, controlled by the Russian Ministry of Defense, announced a recruitment campaign for former and current employees of the Wagner Group, as well as individuals with combat experience in the war in Ukraine.

In January of this year, it was reported that the Kremlin was recruiting 20,000 soldiers to expand its influence in Africa and replace Wagner group mercenaries across the continent.