A UN panel of experts’ report has provided details of Russian support for the military and security forces of the Central African Republic (CAR): a subject that has attracted more attention following the 30 July murder of three journalists investigating the activities of Russian mercenaries in the country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on 22 March that Moscow had sent a consignment of small arms and ammunition, as well as five military and 170 civilian instructors to train the Central African Armed Forces (FACA). It noted that this support had been approved by the UN Security Council committee that oversees the arms embargo on the CAR.
The UN panel of experts report, dated 23 July but not released until after the journalists were killed, said approximately 900 personnel from both the FACA and the Presidential Guard had been trained by the Russians in Sudan and at the Berengo former presidential palace southwest of the capital Bangui.
The head of the Russian training mission said there were no plans to include Russian nationals in the Presidential Guard or to provide the president with Russian close protection personnel. Since April Russian instructors have also been training 160 police officers and 50 gendarmes in Berengo.
The report noted that Russian instructors have also deployed to Sibut and Bangassou in support of the FACA, were involved in escorting a convoy carrying materials to build hospitals in May, and are now guarding Russian-donated hospitals in Bria and Ouadda. Russian officials denied allegations that the Popular Front for the Rebirth of CAR (FPRC) militia had been paid to allow the materials needed to build the hospitals into territory it controls. A Russian instructor was wounded when a convoy heading to Bangassou was ambushed by the Union for Peace in the CAR (UPC) militia on 10 June.
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