MI6 Sir Richard Moore has labelled agreements between African leaders and Russia’s Wagner mercenaries as a “Faustian pact” amid a suggestion that the group’s recent mutiny in Russia could be putting off potential Kremlin clients.
During a rare public appearance in Prague, Sir Richard noted that Wagner’s aborted march on Moscow last month led by Yevgeny Prigozhin was watched by African regimes.
He suggested Prigozhin’s antics may well deter regimes in Sudan and Burkina Faso from going ahead with plans to hire the Wagner forces.
In recent years the Wagner Group has built up a vast shadow empire across Africa providing military muscle in return for lucrative contracts in gold and precious metals.
As Sir Richard pointed out however the fallout recent rebellion may have an impact on Wagner operations and influence in Africa.
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Sir Richard said: “Russia in turn seeks cash by hawking their mercenaries around Africa. In some African nations, burdened by civil war, poverty and a weak state Russia has offered a 21st-century version of a Faustian pact.
“The essential part in this is that Wagner mercenaries will keep the government of that country in power, provided it signs over to Russia or to Russian individuals privileged rights to its people’s mineral wealth.
“The leaders of the Central African Republic were the first to strike was deal followed by the military regime in Mali and others perhaps the contenders to power in Sudan or the new rulers of Burkina Faso may be next.
“But now they’ve had to watch the very mercenaries who they are supposed to trust, turning against their ultimate patron Vladimir Putin and bearing down on Moscow.”
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He added: “If Russian mercenaries can betray Putin, who else might be betrayed if they can advance on Moscow, but other capitals might be threatened?”
Sir Richard also called on Russians who are frustrated with Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine to collaborate with the UK’s intelligence agency.
Moore assured them that “our door is always open” and pledged to work towards putting an end to the ongoing bloodshed.
Sir Richard said: “There are many Russians today who are silently appalled by the sight of their armed forces pulverising Ukrainian cities, expelling innocent families from their homes and kidnapping thousands of children.
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“They are watching in horror as their soldiers ravage a kindred country. They know in their hearts that Putin’s case for attacking a fellow Slavic nation is fraudulent, a miasma of lies and fantasy.”
He said “many Russians are wrestling with the same dilemmas and the same tugs of conscience” as their predecessors did in 1968 when Soviet tanks crushed the Prague spring uprisings.
Sir Richard said: “I invite them to do what others have already done this past 18 months and join hands with us. Our door is always open.
“We will handle their offers of help with the discretion and professionalism for which my service is famed. Their secrets will always be safe with us. And together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end.”
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