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People demonstrate in Niger's capital Niamey to show their support for the coup plotters.

Reuters

What’s next for Russian operations in Africa?

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022, Russian warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, recently killed in a plane crash, was scarcely known outside diehard Russophile circles.

Prigozhin’s celebrity status rose further after this summer’s short-lived mutiny, when, after feuding with Russia’s military leadership, he led thousands of his men from the frontlines in eastern Ukraine toward the heart of Moscow in protest.

Since Prigozhin was killed last week in an explosive event that few believe was an accident, there’s been much speculation about the future of Wagner and its global operations, particularly across Africa, where the group has invested the bulk of its manpower in recent years.

Now that the man at the top is dead, along with his main deputies, what does this mean for the group’s surreptitious activities across the world’s fastest-growing continent?

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Members of a military council that staged a coup in Niger attend a rally at a stadium in Niamey, Niger.

Reuters

Is West Africa headed for war?

Almost two weeks after a military junta seized power in the West African state of Niger, the situation is becoming increasingly unstable, and hopes are fading fast that constitutional order can be restored.

The latest. On Thursday, members of ECOWAS, a West African bloc of 15 nations currently led by Nigeria, announced that they had standby forces in place ready to intervene militarily to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who became Niger’s first democratically elected leader in 2021.

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A parade participant in a Winnie the Pooh costume waves a Chinese flag before the Lunar New Year parade in the Chinatown neighborhood of New York, U.S., February 12, 2023.

REUTERS/Bing Guan/File Photo

Hard Numbers: HK cancels Winnie the Pooh, French torch Bordeaux town hall, Indigenous voice for Oz, Darién Gap crossings soar, CAR hearts China/Russia

0: That's how many Hong Kongers can watch the in-theaters-only slasher film “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,” after the movie’s distributors pulled it from cinemas. The honey-loving bear has been in the crosshairs of Chinese censors since this photo of Xi Jinping and Barack Obama went viral almost a decade ago.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni walk during their meeting in Entebbe.

REUTERS/Isaac Kasamani

Russia and the West battle it out in Africa

Russia’s brutal military offensive may be taking place in Europe, but the battle to shore up support for its cause is now playing out in … Africa.

Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, is currently on a tour to reassure African allies of Moscow’s commitment to alleviating the global food crisis.

But Lavrov is not to be outdone by French President Emmanuel Macron, who is also on a three-nation tour in Central and West Africa. Washington, meanwhile, has sent an envoy to Ethiopia and Egypt.

Russia, the EU, and US have long tried to court developing countries in bids to expand their respective spheres of influence. But as war rages on in Europe, why the intense focus on Africa now?

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The Graphic Truth: Russia arms Africa

Russia has been trying to regain political and economic clout across Africa, a continent where the Kremlin yielded great influence during the Cold War. For years, Moscow has been upping its investment in African countries to gain a strategic foothold on the continent. As part of this effort, it’s been sending mercenaries to support counterinsurgencies in West Africa, as well as flooding some African states with weapons. We look at Russia’s arms exports to Africa’s largest economies and compare them to military exports from the US and China.

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