Russian role in Burkina Faso crisis comes under scrutiny

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Within hours of Burkina Faso’s second coup this year, the head of Russia’s shadowy mercenary outfit Wagner Group was among the first to congratulate the new junta leader in West Africa.

In a message posted on Telegram, Yevgeny Prigozhin praised the mutinous soldiers for doing what “was necessary.”

That same day, pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov, posted that the Russian people had helped Capt. Ibrahim Traore, the new coup leader. And he predicted that Burkina Faso’s new leadership would turn to Russia for help instead of former colonizer France.

As Traore now solidifies his grip on power in Burkina Faso, questions are already swirling about his relationship with Russia and how much it played a hand in catapulting him and his allies to power.

The recent coup “could be a gateway to a more assertive Russian policy towards the Sahel,” said Samuel Ramani, associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security think tank.

“The Burkina Faso coup that we just witnessed could be the first example of Russia playing a part in instigating a coup rather than just capitalizing on pre-existing unrest,” Ramani said.

Asked about the coup in a call with reporters earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wouldn’t comment on prospects of establishing ties with the country’s new leaders.

Source: AP News