Russia has informed the UN that it will withdraw 300 “military instructors” from the Central African Republic (CAR), the France-Press Agency (AFP) reported on January 15.
The Russian instructors were deployed, along with three to four helicopters, in the CAR during the country’s presidential elections last December.
“The Russians have informed the UN that they will withdraw the troops and helicopters” an unnamed diplomat told the AFP.
Another diplomat told the news agency that the Russian withdrawal plan was passed to the UN Sanctions Committee responsible for monitoring the arms embargo imposed on the CAR.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the military instructors were sent at the request of the CAR government to help local forces to “strengthen its defensive capacities” in the run-up to the elections.
The Russian decision to withdraw military instructors was reportedly made before the January 13 attack by the rebels on the capital Bangui. The attack was repelled by UN peacekeepers and local forces.
UN sources told the AFP that coordination between UN peacekeepers, the Russian “ilitary instructors and the 300 Rwandan soldiers also sent as reinforcements, turned out to be “pretty good.” The sources added that the presence of “the Rwandans and the Russians have helped a lot.”
Despite the immense effort being made by local government forces and international troops, the situation in the CAR is still far from being unstable.
- On January 15, a UN peacekeeper was killed in a rebel attack near Grimari town.
- On January 14, the US Department of State ordered departure of non-emergency US staff due to armed group activity in the CAR. However, the commercial flights from Bangui are still available.
- The number of people fleeing violence in the CAR has reached nearly 60,000, according to the UN refugee agency.
- Russia is planning to withdraw all 300 military instructors and several transport helicopters from the CAR, according to the United Nations.
The withdrawal of Russian military instructor doesn’t necessary means that all Russian military specialists will be also leaving the CAR. The Russians have been supporting the government’s efforts to stabilize the situation and protecting the country’s top officials for a while now.
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