Russian Military Utilizes former Wagner Base

( – New satellite imagery indicates that Russia is taking over and expanding a former Wagner Group base in Mali at Modibo Keita International Airport. This airport, located approximately 10 miles from Mali’s capital, previously served as a Wagner Group training and logistics hub.

The satellite images reveal increased activity compared to July, suggesting an expansion of Russia’s presence in Mali despite the death of Wagner’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in the summer of 2023.

In June 2023, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Wagner personnel will remain as trainers in Mali. To increase Russia’s influence throughout Africa, the Wagner Group, a private military contractor with ties to the Kremlin, has been aggressively involved in the continent’s affairs. They’ve been operating primarily in countries in central and Northeast Africa. In order to gain diplomatic backing, the Wagner Group concentrates on law enforcement, paramilitary aid, and disinformation campaigns in these areas.

The Wagner Group has faced legal and political challenges for its activities, particularly in Libya, where accusations of violating the UN arms embargo and supporting renegade general Khalifa Haftar’s forces arose. In response, Russia announced plans to establish a new military force in Africa called the “African Legion”. It is made up of former Wagner mercs and private security contractors who are part of Russian companies working in the continent.

Formed in August 2023 after Prigozhin’s death, the African Legion aims to advance Russia’s economic and strategic interests in Africa. It is intended to be an official and legitimate military force and will be directly under orders from the Russian Ministry of Defense. Focused on providing security and training services to host African governments and safeguarding Russian interests and investments on the continent, it is strategically positioned to counter the influence of former colonial powers of France and the US. Both France and the US have multiple military bases relatively close to countries in which Wagner and the African Legion want to operate.

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