Recently, it was announced by the president of the Community of Officers for International Security that another 600 instructors would arrive in Central Africa to assist their colleagues in restoring peace and protecting the civilian population in the Central African Republic. It was the Central African government that urged the Russian Federation to increase the number of instructors, a request that the Minister of National Defense had informed the UN Security Council about.
Both Central African government and the Russian Federation seem to be satisfied with this cooperation. Together with MINUSCA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the CAR, the Russian instructors have been protecting the local population and contributing to peace restoration in the country for several years. Last December, during the surge of rebel attacks by the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) across Central Africa led by the former CAR president François Bozize, the Russians, the “blue helmets” and the Rwandan militaries helped the national defense forces to stop the attempt to seize Bangui undertaken by the rebels. Over the following months, a significant number of Central African cities have been liberated by the FACA and their allies. The rebels fled, which allowed numerous internally displaced Central Africans to regains their households.
Russia has also deployed its instructors to provide military training to the FACA soldiers. More than 3000 Central African militaries have received the training over the last couple of years at the military base in Berengo. The soldiers are trained in military tactics, shooting, close combat as well as weapons handling, equipping them with the necessary skills to resist the onslaught of the CPC bandits.
Despite the seemingly obvious benefits of Russian presence on the territory of the CAR, some parties are rather skeptical about it. The Russians have been criticized repeatedly for the alleged abuses of local population, violence and looting. Western media have conducted investigations into the matter and the UN Security Council has issued a report detailing the abuses. However, neither of these has managed to provide sufficient evidence to support their claims. Moreover, surveys conducted locally demonstrate a high approval rate of the efforts of Russian instructors to ensure peace among the Central African residents. Some also accuse the instructors of being illegally in the CAR, forgetting the fact that bilateral agreements have been concluded between the two states and that all dispatches of the military personnel in the CAR are supervised and approved by the Security Council.
This is how Alexander Ivanov, head of the Community of Officers for International Security responsible for the work of the Russian military instructors, responds to the above-mentioned allegations: “It is important to note that the Russian instructors go on mission precisely on the basis of a bilateral agreement between the defense ministries of the Russian Federation and the Central African Republic. <…> We verify all the accusations and are open to any verification”, Ivanov stated.