Russia creates new Africa Corps

Following the death of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian ministries of defense and foreign affairs quickly moved to reassure African client states that business as usual would continue—meaning that Moscow's unofficial boots on the ground would keep operating in these countries. Now  reports indicate a transformation, with Wagner's estimated force of 5,000 troops—deployed from the Sahel to Libya to Sudan—to be brought under Defense Ministry command as a new Africa Corps. (The Conversation)

The move would also allow the Kremlin to consolidate control of Wagner's business network in Africa, including potentially lucrative mining interests. Significantly, it comes as France, the traditional patron of the francophone Sahel states, is withdrawing its forces from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger following coups d'etat in these countries. These three countries, now all under Russia-tilting military regimes, last year formed a new mutual defense pact, the Alliance of Sahel States. "It's a recognition on the part of the Kremlin that there's an opportunity to exploit," said J. Peter Pham, former US special envoy to the Sahel. "If it's formalized, especially with the French withdrawal, it's certainly going to be a much more significant and potentially lasting shift in geopolitical and diplomatic alignments." (Al Arabiya, NPR)

French newspaper Le Monde pointed out that the new name appears to be directly inspired by the Afrika Korps, the German battalions that fought in North Africa during World War II.