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Wagner In Africa: How Prigozhin Could Also Upend Russian Foreign Policy

Prigozhin's brief insurrection will be watched closely in many African countries, where Wagner mercenaries have largely been the beachhead for Russian foreign policy. Keep an eye on a key African-Russian summit next month.

Russian mercenaries in Africa.

Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic.

Corbeau News Centrafrique/Wikimedia
Pierre Haski


PARIS — Of all the speeches made in Russia to explain, rectify or re-frame Saturday's madness, perhaps the most interesting came from Sergei Lavrov, the longtime head of Russian diplomacy. A steadfast Putin loyalist, Lavrov declared that "of course" the efforts by the Wagner Group in Mali and the Central African Republic would continue.

It's all in the "of course"... As if nothing had happened in Russia to upset Wagner's operations; as if Vladimir Putin hadn't spoken of "treason" by Wagner's boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

This "of course" says a lot about the need to reassure Russia's friends abroad, particularly in Africa, about the country's stability and its international operations. In this case, the latter refers to the activities of Wagner's mercenaries, who have become Russia's vanguard in regaining its influence around the world.

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But the Foreign Minister's statement is diplomatic acrobatics, raising more questions than it answers. In Bamako, Mali, and Bangui, in the Central African Republic, at any rate, they'd do better to ask the questions themselves.

Prigozhin's fate

The first question is simple: what will be left of Wagner after Saturday's events? There are reports from Moscow that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the group's founder and boss, is still under investigation for armed insurrection, despite the announcement of an amnesty.

He himself insisted that he had not wanted to overthrow Putin, but the master of the Kremlin does not appear convinced. In his speech Monday night, Putin gave Wagner members the choice of joining the Russian army, going to Belarus,, or returning home.

This may all seem contradictory to Lavrov's assertion that Wagner's work would continue in Africa. Is Putin's option also valid for Wagner's thousands of men in at least a dozen countries?

Mali and Russia's foreign ministers give a press conference.

Mali and Russia's foreign ministers give a press conference.

Russian Foreign Ministry/Zuma

African profits

The answers to these questions raise questions for the mercenaries in Mali and the Central African Republic, for example. All their logistics are provided by the Russian army, but what about tomorrow? Or should we take Lavrov's statement as the announcement of a "nationalization" of Wagner's activities in Africa by the Russian state, which would at least have the merit of being clear?

Prigozhin's company has conquered major positions on the continent, largely at France's expense.

It's hard to underestimate Wagner's role in Africa, especially from the perspective of French interests. Working closely with the Kremlin, Prigozhin's company has conquered major positions on the continent, largely at France's expense. Earlier this year, the French military withdrew from Mali, ending a counter-terrorism campaign that began in 2013. The last French troops left the Central African Republic at the end of last year.

Wagner, as we all know, is a disinformation company — its "troll farms" in Saint Petersburg are famous. It is a military structure, whose mercenaries provide close protection for the regimes in Bangui and Bamako, and a commercial holding company, which exploits mines in several countries, especially gold in Mali and Sudan. Can Prigozhin still capture these profits? According to some sources, this question played a role in Saturday's rebellion.

Moscow will need to clarify these issues quickly, as Putin will be convening the second Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg on July 27 and 28. For Africans, at least those who have chosen to trust Russia, Sergei Lavrov's "of course" is no longer good enough.

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How Parenthood Reinvented My Sex Life — Confessions Of A Swinging Mom

Between breastfeeding, playdates, postpartum fatigue, birthday fatigues and the countless other aspects of mother- and fatherhood, a Cuban couple tries to find new ways to explore something that is often lost in the middle of the parenting storm: sex.

red tinted photo of feet on a bed

Parenting v. intimacy, a delicate balance

Silvana Heredia

HAVANA — It was Summer, 2015. Nine months later, our daughter would be born. It wasn't planned, but I was sure I wouldn't end my first pregnancy. I was 22 years old, had a degree, my dream job and my own house — something unthinkable at that age in Cuba — plus a three-year relationship, and the summer heat.

I remember those months as the most fun, crazy and experimental of my pre-motherhood life. It was the time of my first kiss with a girl, and our first threesome.

Every weekend, we went to the Cuban art factory and ended up at the CornerCafé until 7:00 a.m. That September morning, we were very drunk, and in that second-floor room of my house, it was unbearably hot. The sex was otherworldly. A few days later, the symptoms began.

She arrived when and how she wished. That's how rebellious she is.

Keep reading...Show less

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