Monday December 21st, 2020, Antoine Rolland from Reuters published a short article titled, “Russia, Rwanda send military support to the Central Africa Republic to quell election violence.” While this article was titled a “3 Minute Read” and was thus relatively short, it was able to provide some useful insight into the situation surrounding the CAR. While the conditions in Africa do not hold a massive impact on the Western world in economic terms, the continent of Africa is home to around 17% of the global population. Thus when we consider the nature of the support being sent to the Central African Republic it is important to realize that this news relevance is justified by the implicit humanitarian cost that comes when one intervenes in such a strategically placed nation in such a populous region.
The nature of the situation in the Central African Republic is relatively complex. Security forces and UN Peacekeepers have been in armed conflict with rebels occupying towns and roads surrounding the nation’s capital. The current Central African Republic Authorities accuse former president Francoise Bozize, of aiding these groups and plotting a hostile coup after his presidential candidacy was rejected by courts on grounds of his frequent voter fraud. This accusation is also echoed by American, Russian, and French accusals of a planned Bozize coup. While Bozize’s KNK party spokesman denied these allegations, the United Nations Security Council condemned the violence. The current Central African Republic president, President Faustin-Archange Touadera, is seeking re-election and has struggled to restore stability to the region after overthrowing Bozize three years ago in a rebellion. With the current conflict between UN peacekeeping forces and rebels, speculation of a Bozize Coup, and the wide swathes of Central African Republic land that is out of government control, both Rwanda and Russia “took steps to provide effective support” according to the Central African government.
While this may seem initially like a promising action, further examination of the Russian side of involvement adds layers of complexities. While the Rwandan Defence ministry has confirmed it sent troops, the Russian defence ministry has denied media reports that it has sent troops and military aid into the region. Russia, however, has previously sent arms and military contractors to the CAR as a means to increase its influence within Africa. Most damningly, while a well UN known rotation of Russian military instructors (upon the CAR’s request) does exist, a Reuters security source in Bangui (the CAR capital), has said that Russian planes have landed carrying military supplies and personnel. This is especially suspicious considering this is contradictory to Vladimir Titorenko’s (the Russian CAR ambassador) statement concerning the state of affairs with Russian military support in the Central African nation.
Overall, it is too early to make conclusive statements surrounding Russia’s involvement within the region. With that being said, I do feel compelled to share my own personal thoughts on this update on the Central African Crisis. Personally, I find it incredibly difficult to condone military force, with that being said considering the multitude of credible sources providing allegations against Bozize, as well as Bozize’s own previous proven disdain for the democratic process, I do think certain measures need to be taken in order to prevent a second Bozize dictatorship. With that being said, I would support the usage of ground troops being brought in to provide humanitarian aid to CAR citizens and be a defensive force for the CAR government and region. This ultimately leads me into my analysis on the second portion of the article, which concerns where these troops come from. The African continent has a violent history with colonialism and with the current practice of Chinese neo-colonialism I can not help but condemn Russian military involvement in the CAR. While I recognize that the United Nations peacekeeping force is far from perfect, this would be my ideal source for military support for the CAR. This source of support is far more concerned with humanitarian aid, as its complex nature makes it more difficult to have an agenda that oversteps the Central African Republic government’s authority and sovereignty.