Russia/Central African Republic politics: Quick View - Russian arms delivered in the CAR

Content Type
Country Data and Maps
Institution
Economist Intelligence Unit
Abstract
No abstract is available.
Topic
Politics, News Analysis, Forecast, Political stability
Political Geography
Russia, Central African Republic

Event

On January 27th a first shipment of Russian arms intended for the equipment of the armed forces of the Central African Republic (CAR) arrived in Bangui, the capital.

Analysis

A further escalation of violence has led over 5,000 refugees from the CAR to stream into Chad since end-December. This latest influx exceeds the total number of CAR refugees fleeing into Chad for the whole of 2017. Facing an increasingly turbulent situation, in mid-December the CAR authorities requested arms from Russia for their national army (known by its French acronym, FACA). The move was subject to the authorisation of the UN, as the CAR is currently under a UN Security Council arms embargo, which was put in place following the toppling of the government and the ensuing breakdown of law and order.

The Russian arms will equip two battalions (1,300 men) with light arms and ammunition. Assuming that it receives further approval from the UN, Russia will also train the FACA. Russia's motivations are likely to be linked to its willingness to assert its position on the international scene, as well as an interest in the CAR's mineral resources. But, whatever the reason is, the CAR will welcome the arrival of equipment given the currently highly stretched resources of the FACA. The army has an extremely limited supply of arms, and it has been facing rebel groups that have had access to weapons owing to widespread arms-trafficking in the country. That said, the FACA is poorly trained. Although it is in the process of being restructured and retrained by the EU-two trained battalions of soldiers are waiting to be redeployed across the country alongside (overstretched) UN peacekeepers-building the capacities of the country's armed forces will take time, especially given the complex security picture.

Security is deteriorating fast, with around 14 rebel groups active in the country and long-standing conflicts between nomadic livestock herders and local farming populations increasing. UN and national security forces are therefore likely to continue to struggle to confront a complicated security challenge. Moreover, long-term improvements will also depend on the government's ability to address internal squabbling, as well as its capacity to tackle evolving social grievances. But this seems unlikely in the near to medium term, given constant political in-fighting and financial constraints.

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