The head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says they will continue to fight in African countries where they already have a presence.
Since Prigozhin committed a botched mutiny in Russia last month and was exiled to Belarus, questions have been raised about Wagner’s future.
“There was no reduction in our programs in Africa and there will be none,” Prigozhin told Afrique Média TV.
BBC Verify has analyzed the audio and confirms it is Mr Prigozhin’s voice.
He did not appear on camera during the interview with Afrique Média, a pro-Kremlin news channel that focuses on francophone African countries and is associated with the Wagner group.
Mr Prigozhin’s soldiers are embedded in countries such as Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR), where human rights organizations and the UN accuse them of committing war crimes.
Wagner fighters are also accused by the US of enriching themselves from illegal gold deals on the continent.
But Mr. Prigozhin insists that their work is of a different nature.
“We continue to work in all countries where we started or are now doing this work of cooperation and development,” he told Afrique Média TV.
“If the help of the Wagner group is needed anywhere to fight gangs and terrorists and protect the interests of the people of these countries, we are ready to start fulfilling this task immediately after agreeing on the terms.”
The Wagner boss’s comments echo those of Russia’s foreign minister, who has said Wagner and Russia were in Africa to stay despite recent events.