Moscow is considering the establishment of a military base in the Central African Republic (CAR), where Russian forces are already training local troops as part of a deal with Bangui.
Central African Republic Defense Minister Marie-Noelle Koyara told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency that the establishment of a Russian military base is possible under an agreement signed in August between Moscow and Bangui.
“We have not yet spoken about the concrete development of the base, but such a possibility is not excluded in the framework agreement,” Koyara said.
“If the presidents, as supreme commanders and leaders of the nation, decide to deploy the base, then our countries will carry it out,” she added.
She further explained that authorities and armed groups of the Central African Republic are ready for a meeting to discuss the move under the auspices of the African Union.
“Armed groups are ready for a meeting, we are ready for a meeting, all interested parties are ready for a meeting, and now we are waiting for the response from the African Union as a coordinator, when and where it should take place.”
“Our population perceives Russia very well. When the talk is about Russia, people understand that this is a full-fledged partner that may change the country’s future. And it is this human support, so to speak from the masses, that suggests that the word ‘partner’ is fully applicable to Russia,” Koyara added.
She said an army training center had already been established in the country with Russia, which could not be considered a military base.
Russia has already deployed light arms and troops to CAR —a member of the United Nations — after obtaining approval from the UN Security Council.
The Central African Republic, a former French colony, has for decades been mired in poverty, hunger and violence due to ethnic and religious conflict between rival militias.
The United States, which has a significant military presence in Africa, has recently launched a new strategy to counter what it calls the ‘predatory’ practices of Russia and China in the continent.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton accused Moscow and Beijing of using “corrupt” and “predatory” practices to gain an economic advantage over Washington in Africa.
“They [China and Russia] are deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the United States,” he added.
China has already provided many countries in Asia and Africa with billions of dollars in aid and loans for roads, railways, ports and other major infrastructure projects. It has also set up its first overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017, where the US also has its main base of operations in Africa.
The US, which already runs 34 military bases across Africa, has in recent years used the presence of Takfiri terrorists to build up its presence across the continent, where it has over 6,000 boots on the ground.