Author Archive

Lisa Klaassen (DPIR, University of Oxford)

Lisa Klaassen is a MPhil Candidate in International Relations at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on African foreign policy and the security axis of Sino-African and Russian-African relations.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second year, the Wagner Group has been expanding its Kremlin-backed footprint across the globe. In particular, the mercenary network has been deploying forces in Africa’s Sahel region, revealing how Moscow is strategically blurring the line between “anti-terror” operations, security-for-resources tradeoffs, and covert political influence. In recent months, U.S. officials have accused Wagner of exploiting resources in the Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, Sudan, and beyond in an effort to fund Putin’s “war machine” in Ukraine — a charge Moscow dismissed as “anti-Russian rage”. Beyond the Ukraine crisis, however, the group’s activities and atrocities are painting a dire picture of Russia’s long-term strategy to destabilise Western relationships and gain a foothold in the African …