The leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video published Monday that his group was making Africa “freer” and suggested he was on the continent.
Prigozhin, a former Kremlin ally whose group rebelled against Russia’s military leadership in June, has made few public appearances since the mutiny.
The group maintains a strong military presence in Africa, where it has partnered with several nations, including Mali and the Central African Republic.
“We are working. The temperature is above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). Just how we like it,” Prigozhin said in the video, which AFP was unable to immediately verify.
The video shows Prigozhin holding an assault rifle, before panning around to reveal military vehicles parked on a large, desert-like plain.
“The Wagner Group is conducting reconnaissance and search activities. Making Russia even greater on every continent — and Africa even freer,” Prigozhin said.
Wagner’s apparent activities in Africa come as tensions brew in Niger, which was rocked by a coup in July that saw its government deposed and a military junta installed.
A Russian organisation affiliated with Wagner shared a message apparently from Prigozhin, who said the events in Niger were part of the nation’s fight against “colonisers”.