The Kremlin plans to relocate certain members of the former Wagner Group – the state-funded private military company, currently serving in Africa to its Belgorod Oblast, ISW reported, citing a Russian source with inside information.

Russia’s Belgorod region, which is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Ukraine, is a place where Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has spilled back onto Russia. Kyiv regularly targets drones there and anti-Putin Russian volunteer fighters aligned with Ukraine have carried out cross-border incursions there.

The source claimed, on Monday, April 15, that the Kremlin believes that Russian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Lieutenant General Andrei Averyanov failed to meet deadlines for the development of the Russian Ministry of Defense-controlled Africa Corps.


Preparations are underway to redeploy select units from Africa to Belgorod Oblast, the source said.

Furthermore, the insider suggested that the ongoing recruitment efforts of the Wagner Group in Africa might be a cover for gathering personnel for deployment in Belgorod Oblast, ISW reported.

Russian Africa Corps soldiers deployed to Niger on April 12, and it is unclear if the source is claiming that the Africa Corps will cease operations in Africa completely or if only certain units will be relocated to the Ukrainian-Russian border area.

Averyanov was previously part of the Russian delegation that engaged with officials from Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali. During these meetings, he seemed deeply engaged in the Russian government's attempts to absorb or integrate the Wagner Group.

Russia’s New Defense Minister Reportedly Oversaw Wagner PMC’s Developments
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Russia’s New Defense Minister Reportedly Oversaw Wagner PMC’s Developments

Russian journalists said Moscow’s newly appointed defense minister was close to Wagner PMC’s late founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and involved in overseeing his activities.

Notably, Averyanov heads GRU unit 29155, which has been linked to various incidents including the 2018 assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.

Recent investigations have also implicated this unit in alleged directed energy or acoustic weapons attacks against US government personnel both domestically and internationally.

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