DRC denied allegations of having signed a military cooperation agreements with Russia

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has officially denied claims of recent military agreements with Russia, amid circulating reports suggesting otherwise. A statement released by the DRC’s Ministry of Information on Thursday explicitly refutes the existence of any newly signed military cooperation agreements between the two nations. “To date, no military cooperation agreements have been recently signed between Russia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the statement clarified.

This announcement came in response to a report from the Russian state news agency, TASS, on Tuesday, which indicated that the Russian government had approved a draft military cooperation agreement with the DRC. According to TASS, the proposed agreement included provisions for joint military exercises, military training, and the hosting of warships and aircraft upon request or invitation. However, the DRC government clarifies that this draft agreement, initiated by both countries in 1999, has not yet been formalized.

Further distancing itself from the implications of imminent military collaboration, the DRC’s Ministry of Information stated, “At this time, there are no discussions between the two countries regarding the implementation of this agreement. As things stand, the DRC is not contemplating such actions.”

These developments occur against a backdrop of heightened geopolitical interest in Africa by Russia and strained relations between the DRC and Western nations, particularly the United States and European countries. Last month, protests erupted in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, where demonstrators criticized the US and European nations for their alleged failure to use their influence over Rwanda to end armed conflict in the eastern DRC. The protestors accused Rwanda, supported by some Western nations, of backing the M23 rebel group, an allegation Rwanda denies.

The situation in Kinshasa mirrors events in other former French colonies, where France’s historical military and economic influence is being challenged or replaced, notably by the Russian private military company, Wagner Group. The Wagner Group, which has been active in various African nations, was previously considered independent. However, following the death of its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash in August 2023, the group is now perceived to be under the direct control of the Russian government. The Wagner Group’s activities in Africa, which range from military support to mining operations, have sparked discussions about Russia’s growing influence on the continent, including in the DRC. Despite rumors of Wagner’s presence in the DRC, the Congolese government has consistently denied such allegations.

The recent discourse around a military agreement between the DRC and Russia, whether confirmed or not, underscores the complex dynamics of international relations and the strategic importance of Africa on the global stage.