Cameroon signs military collaboration accord with Russia that gives Wagner mercenaries a firmer foothold in West Africa
Cameroonian Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo has signed a military cooperation agreement in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Choigou, as Wagner mercenaries are boosting Russia’s influence in West Africa.
The agreement was signed a fortnight ago, on April 12, but revealed on Thursday last week.
In the text, the two countries agree to exchange opinions and information in the field of international defence and security policy, training troops, military education, medicine and topography.
The terms appear vague and makes no mention of either the separatist Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, nor the fight against Boko Haram in the Far North region.
Cameroon has held bilateral relations with Russia since 2015.
For researcher Thierry Vircoulon, coordinator of the Central and Southern Africa Observatory at the French Institute of International Relations, the agreement marks a continuation of military ties with the West African country.
When Cameroon first signed in 2015, “it was after the first Ukrainian crisis and at the beginning of the Russian offensive’ in Africa” as well as arms deals with Russia, Vircoulon tells RFI.
During the UN General Assembly vote in February calling for the Russian withdrawal from Ukraine, Cameroon was absent, and for the second vote, it abstained.
Some see this as a welcome announcement, even though the terms of the deal are unclear.
However, it comes at a time when Wagner Group, the private Russian militia company, has been accused of atrocities and human rights violations on the African continent, notably the Central African Republic, Libya, Sudan and Mali.
Wagner has allegedly been linked to a recent massacre in the Malian village of Moura. Mali has opened its own investigation but denied United Nations investigators access to the site after Russia blocked the request at a UN Security Council meeting.
The EU levied sanctions on the Wagner Group last December accusing it of human rights abuses and saying its members, who are mostly ex-service personnel, had carried out clandestine operations on the Kremlin’s behalf.
- A RFI report