Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 28 July 2020
U.S. Says Russian Military Continues to Provide Supplies to Libya
Over the past few years Russia has been heavily implicated in the Libyan civil war where they take sides with one camp. But it was only recently that the United States has provided evidence for this, thus seeing Libya as yet another place in the world where the U.S. and Russian interests clash. Also, it is the key strategic place for both sides. The United States says that Russian-backed hired guns breach the UN arms embargo and thus fuel the Libyan conflict. United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) revealed that 2,000 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group have been operating in Libya.
U.S. Africa Command has mounting evidence that Russia, through the Wagner Group, continues to deploy military equipment and arms in Libya. “Russia continues to play an unhelpful role in Libya by delivering supplies and equipment to the Wagner group,” Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, Africom director of operations, said on July 24. “Imagery continues to unmask their consistent denials,” he added.
The U.S. assesses that Russia supplied Wagner forces operating in Libya with fighter aircraft, military armored vehicles, air defense systems, and other supplies. This makes the whole situation far more complex and increases the risk of mistake whilst leading to the escalation of violence on Libyan soil. Russia’s top goal is to build up its military presence in Libya, according to the U.S. military. “The type and volume of equipment demonstrate an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities,” General Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM deputy director of intelligence, said in a statement. Russian military cargo aircraft, including IL-76s, continue to supply Wagner fighters. Russian air defense equipment, including SA-22s, is present in Libya and operated by Russia, according to U.S. photos and video footage.
Satellite photos also show Wagner utility trucks and Russian mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles are also present in Libya. That is the third time AFRICOM has made specific accusations against Russia. Earlier the U.S. military had accused Russia of sending fighter jets to Libya to assist Russian mercenaries there, and of planting mines outside Tripoli. In May, U.S. Africa Command reported at least 14 Mig-29s and Su-24s had been flown from Russia to Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their origin before they traveled into Libya. The U.S. military assesses that the warplanes are being actively flown in Libyan airspace. In July, the United States said they had photos of improvised explosive devices and a concealed anti-personnel mine found outside Tripoli.
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