Sovereignty triangles: Emotions and transactions in Central African relations with Russia

Louisa Lombard


Increasingly over the past five years, the Russian government has been expanding its spheres of influence in Africa, chiefly via the operations of Wagner Group mercenaries. The Central African Republic has been a Wagner testing ground, a place where they have wide range to operate at will and have taken control of mining areas while targeting armed group members and civilians. What drew Central African government elites to this new relationship? Russia offered exactly what they wanted most: the feeling of autonomy created by having greater firepower and ruthless fighters, which let them feel less dependent on their traditional donor relationships. One can loosely analogize these diplomatic relationships to the urban Central African dating scene, where people play with multiple suitors in search of material benefit and commitment. Such analogizing underlines that relationships, emotions, and transactions are key to sovereignty.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/723226