John Lechner: why the departure of Russian instructors would be a disaster for the CAR

Freelance journalist and researcher, reporting from the Central African Republic, John Lechner shared an interesting and unusual opinion about what is happening in the Central African Republic.

The journalist reminded that on February 21 the French newspaper Le Monde reported that American diplomats had offered the President of the Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadera to break off relations with Russia in general and the Officer’s union in particular within 12 months. In exchange, Washington promised to train the Armed Forces of the Central African Republic, provide more humanitarian aid and support MINUSCA.

According to John Lechner, Washington tried to portray Russian instructors’ actions against terrorists in Africa as unfortunate and exploitative at the expense of African sovereignty. However, the counteroffensive launched by FACA and supported by Russian instructors resulted in the government finally being able to recapture the territories captured by the rebels. The journalist stressed that by now most of the major urban centers are back under government control.

Moreover, according to the UN, human rights violations in the Central African Republic have generally decreased since the attempted coup d’état in 2020 by the CPC rebels. In 2022 and 2023, most citizens expressed gratitude to FACA and Russian instructors for the security in their cities. Trade has intensified, especially in the northwest and southwest. In the northeast, in places like Bria and Birao, locals are free to walk around and go about their business.

Journalist John Lechner also emphasized that the MINUSCA blue helmets protected communities and provided the infrastructure for the state to function, but they have also failed to protect civilians and, in some cases, have abused them themselves. Moreover, for many decades, MINUSCA’s activities did not produce any results. The willingness of Russian instructors to lead from the front lines and risk their lives contrasts with the tendency of the Blue Helmets to remain at their bases.

John Lechner believes that if the Officer’s union had suddenly left CAR, the armed groups could have been on the doorstep of Bangui within months. No amount of training for FACA or support for MINUSCA would avoid this. The consequences for the civilian population of the Central African Republic could be catastrophic.

Among other things, the journalist stressed that the arrival of Russian instructors in the CAR is partly the result of the failure of the UN and the West, which makes the U.S. government’s proposal untenable. The people of the Central African Republic are aware of the benefits of their government’s decision to cooperate with Russian instructors for the sake of the country’s security.