Great overview of Russian activity including Wagner in the Central African Republic and what it means for peace from @PaulineBax1

It’s clear based on these recommendations just how great the challenges are. Some thoughts:
It’s difficult to imagine how France, EU, US can interface reliably w the Russian parties for a few reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that Russian PMCs have reportedly made use of EU-trained forces and MINUSCA assets…
All while very aggressively undermining any engagement by the Eu, France, MINUSCA etc through public statements and disinformation.

Honestly, I think the bigger challenge to any kind of interfacing with Russian elements in Bangui is knowing who’s in charge.
And that’s because there may not be a good answer to that. Wagner coordinates with the Russian state and serves their objectives, but they are also comprised of a diffuse networks of companies and individuals which act to serve their own interests as well.
I appreciate that this report also emphasizes specific reported abuses by Wagner forces in the CAR, namely against Fulani and Gbaya. Deeply concerning, and key to document. I am interested in where this direction is coming from, beyond just indiscriminate force.
As @PaulineBax1 points out, it’s within Touadera’s right hire PMCs. I’ve heard people here make reference to the example of Executive Outcomes - particularly when it comes to swaying a long and seemingly intractable conflict to create space for political settlement.
BUT I would emphasize that Wagner is not a conventional PMC (recognizing that even that is a slippery concept). I say that not only because they directly engage in combat in a way that most larger PMCs shy away from, but also because they undertake non-military responsibilities…
They coordinate with and overlap with the Russian state (again, not entirely unique as PMCs go), they have a dismal track record in regards to human rights, and a shaky record even in regards to success (see: Mozambique).
For example, as “non-military responsibilities” go, Russian elements took over the CAR’s customs services for a time. Their role goes far between just the military domain. It’s not evident that they are terribly competent in these other areas…
And they raise tremendous questions over sovereignty and Russian objectives. Which brings me to the last point of this meandering thread - how these guys get paid.

This @CrisisGroup report points out concerns about payment via mineral wealth.
It’s still not clear how Russian PMCs in the CAR are paid by the CAR government. This report makes some interesting notes that they do not appear in the national budget.

I am skeptical that even preferential mineral resource exploitation can cover these costs in practice.
I say that because of this network’s track record elsewhere - and also bc there is not yet solid evidence of the profitability of Russian mining ventures like Lobaye.

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More from @Jack_Mrgln

8 Dec
TASS reports that EU members have approved the introduction of sanctions against Wagner Group entities. The EU Council will then have to approve this decision on the 13th.

Thread on what we know and who the targets are.

This is in line with statements by @RFERL 's Europe Editor

RFE/RL's Ukraine service reported yesterday that this included
- Stanislav Dychko
- Dmitry Utkin
- Valeriy Zakharov

As well as entities listed under the Syria program

Read 17 tweets
7 Dec
Killer investigation from @ZackKopplin into the Barzanis US property holdings dropped today. Some key insights into how corporate secrecy and property ownership works in the US, benefiting kleptocrats and the super wealthy…
The Barzanis have been lucky in most large leaks - they haven’t appeared in the Panama Papers and the Pandora Papers. They do appear in @C4ADS Sandcastles database of Dubai properties, and as Zack shows, hidden deep in US records as well. Image
For more on the Barzani family in the UAE, check out Zack’s thread:
Read 7 tweets
5 Dec
On Friday, a trailer dropped for the newest Prigozhin movie, and the sequel to Tourist: “GRANITE,” an action movie about Russian “specialists” Mozambique Image
Mozambique is an odd choice for setting their sequel to a movie about the Central African Republic because by all accounts, Wagner had a terrible time there…
A lot of the same faces in this movie as in Tourist, and it looks like fundamentally the same set up. Seems considerably more racist in its portrayal of Africans.
Read 9 tweets
4 Nov
Amazing new Conflict Armament Research @conflictarm report on Russian weapons in the Donbas makes use of @C4ADS' Seamless Horizons data environment to find out how European components ended up in Russian UAVs in the Donbas

@conflictarm analyzed a UAV that was downed by Ukrainian forces in 2017 near Mariupol. It is similar to an Orlan-10, but not identical.

Interestingly, it was manufactured from Western European components — both authentic and counterfeit. But how did they end up in this UAV?

@conflictarm contacted the manufacturer of the engine, Weinhold GmbH.

"[Weinhold GmbH] indicated that it had sent the part
to World Logistic Group, a company based in
the Czech Republic, in October 2013."

Read 9 tweets
3 Nov
NEW from @CandaceRondeaux, @oimho and me: The Abu Dhabi Express — Analyzing the Wagner Group’s Libya Logistics Pipeline & Operations

Illuminating one of the strangest chapters of one of the most complex modern conflicts w flight data, imagery + more…
Back in 2020, @ak_mack and @JackDetsch spotted a throwaway line in a DOD report that said the UAE might be financing Wagner Group operations in Libya.…
And some may remember the images floating around of a UAE Pantsir sporting some unusual norse runes from Spring of 2020
Read 8 tweets
9 Jul
It's been 10 years since South Sudan won its independence. Corruption by the ruling elite and transnational illicit flows have denied the country both peace and prosperity.

THREAD on @C4ADS' work to illuminate the networks behind violence & corruption in South Sudan.
Last year, we launched, a project to catalog imagery of weapons and vehicles used by warring parties in South Sudan prior to the UN embargo. It provides a window into the origins of weapons sustaining the conflict, and a baseline for conflict researchers.
This includes everything from analysis of weapons like NORINCO CQ rifles contributed by @CalibreObscura to MRAPs and other armored vehicles used by the SSPDF and non-state armed groups.
Read 8 tweets

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