Fighters in the Central African Republic have pledged allegiance to the Kremlin and said they are preparing to enter the war in Ukraine.

A group of ten heavily armed soldiers appeared in a video saying they would soon be joining their “Russian brothers” on the front line to bring “peace and order”.

President Putin has also given the green light to bring in thousands of “volunteers” from the Middle East.

At a meeting this morning, Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, said there were 16,000 “volunteers” in the Middle East who were ready to come to fight with Russian-backed forces in the breakaway Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Russia has offered extensive military support to the Central African Republic’s President Touadéra in recent years, helping to bolster the regime’s poorly equipped army in fighting back rebel militia groups.

Russia says that it has 1,100 unarmed military trainers in the Central African Republic, part of a deal Moscow secured with Touadéra in 2018.

There are also believed to be thousands of Russian mercenaries fighting with the Wagner Group, a private military organisation based in Russia whose members have reportedly taken part in conflicts across Africa and in Syria on the side of the Syrian government.

Moscow denies any links to Wagner. However, the company is widely believed to be managed and financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to the Kremlin and under US sanctions for attempted meddling in the 2016 American elections.

Last Saturday hundreds of people gathered in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, in support of Russia in its offensive against Ukraine. 

According to AFP, demonstrators held signs proclaiming “Russia saves Donbas” and “Russia and Central Africa against Nazism”.

(AFP)

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