Recently, Moscow announced plans to send additional equipment and new military instructors to the Central African Republic (CAR).
Following Russia's announcement, French Defense Minister Florence Parly told the weekly Jeune Afrique that Russia’s expanding influence in the CAR, a former French colony, over the past months, will unlikely to help stabilize the situation in the country.
In December 2017, Russia received the United Nations’ Security Council’s approval to supply weapons to the CAR, after the rebel coalition Séléka, consisting mainly of Muslims, overthrew President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisal from Christian "anti-balaka" militia.
Despite electing a new leader in 2016, the country has been mired in inter-communal violence and political instability. The armed conflict has been going on in the country almost continuously since 2013.
Earlier this year, Russia delivered hundreds of weapons and sent 175 instructors to the Central African Republic to support the government’s fight against paramilitary groups.
Last week, Moscow announced plans to send additional equipment and more instructors, reinforcing the largest military intervention in Africa in recent decades.
Answering the question of whether the growing influence of Russia in the CAR pose a threat to French interests, Parly said: “I will not speak about French interests, but about the interests of Central Africa. Africa belongs to Africans and no one else, no more to the Russians than the French. ”
“Russia has asserted its presence in the CAR in recent months, it is true, but I’m not sure that this presence and Moscow’s actions, such as the agreements reached in Khartoum at the end of August, help to stabilize the country,” she said.
Russian Foreign Ministry said that some countries are “experiencing a certain jealousy” over Russia’s role in the CAR.
In late August, Central African armed groups signed a preliminary agreement in Khartoum under the aegis of Russia and Sudan, while the African Union, supported by Paris, was overseeing post-crisis negotiations.
The French military is present in the CAR, mainly as part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission.