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Military mercenaries in the service of Russia in Africa and Ukraine

Conflicts in Ukraine and Africa increasingly involve private military groups, although using mercenaries or soldiers for hire is illegal in many countries. More than 40 states have ratified the UN convention against their involvement, but these do not include the big military powers such as the US, Russia, China, France and the UK. Not only are these states not party to this agreement, but some also use mercenaries. For example, Russia’s Wagner Group is currently fighting battles in eastern Ukraine, and almost 20 years ago, the former security company Blackwater supported US forces in the Iraq war. Both organisations have been accused of human rights violations.

At the UN Security Council meeting on West Africa and the Sahel, the United States, France and the United Kingdom accused Kremlin-backed Russian military contractors, the Wagner Group, of interfering in the internal affairs of African countries and “increasing the likelihood of a rise in violent extremism” in the Sahel region, which is suffering increasingly frequent attacks. Paramilitary forces fail to respond to the threat of armed groups, rob states of their resources, violate human rights and threaten the security of peacekeepers and UN personnel.

The US has previously accused  Russian mercenaries of using natural resources in countries such as the Central African Republic, Mali and Sudan to help fund Moscow’s war against Ukraine. The Russian government has vehemently rejected all accusations by Western countries.

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