Russia has reportedly asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for authorization to supply light arms and ammunition to the embattled armed forces of the Central African Republic (CAR).
A UNSC diplomat anonymously told AFP that Moscow was asking the Council for an exemption to the arms embargo imposed on the impoverished African nation in 2013, when it descended into widespread ethnic violence that mainly targeted the country’s Muslim population.
According to the report, Russia has proposed to provide two battalions of 1,300 men with weapons and ammunition. The troops were recently trained by the European Union.
“Having assessed the situation in CAR, the Russian side agreed with the opinion of this country’s leadership on the necessity to increase the overall strength of the armed forces of the Central African Republic,” reads the request from Russia’s UN mission.
Among the armaments listed on the Russian proposal are 900 pistols, 5,200 assault rifles, 140 sniper rifles, 840 Kalashnikov machine guns, 270 RPGs, and 20 anti-aircraft guns. Russia, the document shows, would also supply millions of pieces of ammunition to the CAR forces, including armor-piercing cartridges, hand grenades, and mortars.
The development came after the CAR’s President Faustin-Archange Touadera asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for military aid during discussions at Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi back in October.
Russian Defense Ministry authorities paid a visit to the CAR in late November to review the newly-trained troops and discuss the military assistance.
France has reportedly been concerned by Moscow’s plan, particularly over the manner of the storage of the armaments.
This is while the Russian request states, “Storage and stockpile management of weapons of the first delivery will be organized at the already existing storage facilities under armed protection.”
UNSC members have until Wednesday 3:00 p.m. (2000 GMT) to consider the Russian request. If there are no objections by the members, Russia will get a green light for the shipments, due to start next week.
The three-stage delivery is expected to satisfy French concerns by having the weapons stored under tight security to avoid their slipping into the hands of rebel groups.