Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin posted a new video on Telegram on Monday, announcing that the Russian mercenary force would make Russia “bigger” and Africa “freer.”
The video was posted on a Telegram channel, which Prigozhin says is somewhere in Africa.
In the video, Prigozhin says that the Wagner group is conducting reconnaissance and search activities, “making Russia even bigger on all continents and Africa even more free.”
“Justice and Happiness for African Nations. Making hell hot for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other bandits,” says Prigozhin, noting that temperatures there topped 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
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“We are recruiting real warriors and continue to carry out the tasks that we were given and promised to master,” says Prigozhin, while wearing an assault rifle and military uniform. Pickup trucks and other people dressed in work clothes can be seen in the background.
The video's release comes nearly two months after Prigozhin led a short-lived insurgency that President Vladimir Putin said posed the greatest threat to the Russian leader's 23-year rule.
The Wagner founder has long benefited from Putin's powerful patronage, even as he built a private army that fought for Russian interests abroad and took part in some of the deadliest battles of the war in Ukraine.
Russian social media channels linked to the mercenary leader said Prigozhin is recruiting fighters to work in Africa and is also inviting investors from Russia to raise money in the through the Russian House, a cultural center in the African country's capital create Central African Republic.
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The Central African Republic is one of the countries where Wagner's recruits were active and which have been accused of human rights abuses.
The Kremlin has been using the Wagner Group since 2014 as a tool to expand Russia's presence in the Middle East and Africa.
“It is no coincidence that the Wagner Group is expanding its presence in Africa. Russia considers Africa one of the most vital regions in the world because of its natural resources,” former US Defense Intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler told Fox News Digital.
“It is part of Putin's grand strategy to oust US and Western influence in Africa. Probably on Putin's orders, Prigozhin is executing this strategy, which includes destabilization operations, under the guise of providing counter-terrorism training to unstable regimes. It is too.” Part of Putin's strategy of lateral escalation, that is, giving Washington something else to think about, to divert attention from supporting Ukraine.”
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Prigozhin criticized Russia's military performance in Ukraine for months before calling for an armed uprising to overthrow the defense minister on June 23 and setting out from Ukraine for Moscow with his mercenaries.
Under a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin agreed to end his insurgency in exchange for an amnesty for him and his fighters and permission to resettle in Belarus.
As the revolt unfolded, Putin branded Prigozhin a traitor and promised harsh punishment, but the criminal case against the mercenary chief on charges of rebellion was later dropped. The Kremlin said Putin had a three-hour meeting with the commanders of the Prigozhin and Wagner groups days after the uprising.
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Video from July apparently showed Prigozhin in Belarus, but he was then photographed on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. His current whereabouts are unknown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.