Le Figaro (France): mercenaries “Wagner” in the center of the Russian game in Libya

We are talking about little known funeral ritual. When one of the mercenaries killed in battle in Syria, Libya or some other African country, his body was sent to Rostov-on-don, South Russia. The company Wagner and many other associations and enterprises Eugene Prigogine (nicknamed “Putin’s cook”) take care of everything. Relatives of a soldier placed in a soulless hotel in the city centre. Before you pick up the remains, they receive his award and medallion “Wagner” who put on his grave. In addition, they will receive 5 million rubles, which rely the family of each deceased in the battle.

Officially these soldiers did not exist, and their military company no registration. Anyway, according to the journalist “Bi-Bi-si Russia” Ilya Barabanov, who is not the first investigating on this subject for 5 years in the ranks of the “Wagner” was visited by 8,000 people. In Syria because of U.S. bombing in Deir ezzor in February 2018, killed several dozen of them, maybe up to 250 people. There were losses in Libya, where from October 2018, they maintain a “Marshal” Khalifa the Haftarot (along with Egypt and the UAE). According to information from various sources in Libya, a total of 35 were killed by the Russians, and not all of them were part of “Wagner”. Some argue that Russia was there, and regular troops (particularly last year) under the command of Lieutenant-General Andrew Kazakova, Deputy commander of the airborne forces. At the moment, such a presence is possible, but it does not confirm.

For 2019 information about this appeared in the American media, but the Russian government has always denied its role in the presence of mercenaries in Libya. In February of this year Vladimir Putin has reiterated that Moscow has nothing to do with potentially being in the territory of the country to the Russians. Anyway, the change of the situation in the Libyan crisis, military failures of the Haftarot and the tensions in its relations with the Russian allies has led to the fact that these mercenaries recently came under the spotlight.

The presence of mercenaries

On April 24, submitted to the UN security Council the report was first confirmed by the presence of mercenaries “Wagner” in Libya. It is noted that the number is “no more than 800-1200”, although the authors have not “independently verified the magnitude of presence.”

These people, whose actions serve as a “force multiplier” and provide “technical support for repair of military equipment, involved in the fighting and operations to establish the influence,” said UN experts. They also help the forces of Marshal of Haftarot in the field of “artillery and air monitoring use of experience in the field of electronic warfare and deploy the snipers.” Pictures with the image of “heavy and modern” weapons “Wagner” in the country indicate that it is not just about a private company, said an American specialist. The UN say about the presence of mercenaries in Libya and other Russian PMCs, such as “Russian security systems”, are engaged in the maintenance and repair of military aircraft. These mercenaries exacerbated the situation in Libya, resented in Washington.

The UN investigation also noted the tension between the leader of Eastern Libya and Russia. Relationship Khalifa the Haftarot with Moscow has gradually deteriorated over the past months. There was a conflict between the Libyan national army and “Wagner”, whose people were at the front during the January 2019 large-scale offensive on Tripoli, where the Government of national unity Faiza Saraga (but it is officially recognized by the international community). The LDF has made no progress before Tripoli, and had recently lost control of several coastal towns, which gave the Haftarot cause for accusations of “inefficiency” fighters “Wagner”, in particular in the fight against the omnipresent drones of the forces of the STUMP, which now receive the support of Turkey.

On Monday, government forces announced the capture of strategic position, military air base Vatia 125 km South-West of Tripoli. According to information from multiple sources, Khalifa Avtar doesn’t want to pay “Wagner’s” $ 150 million on several contracts, including the supply of weapons. The Libyan captain was also unhappy with the sending of “Wagner”, “inexperienced”, according to him, fighters from Syria, Belarus and Serbia. According to Ilya Barabanov, recently fighters “Wagner” withdrew from the front lines.

In the official registers of any one fighter “Wagner” died in Libya, where Moscow does not even have embassies and consulates. All the losses recorded in Syria. Autopsy held in the Rostov military laboratory, which was established during the war in Chechnya. Most of the returnees to civilian life refuse to speak (in this case, they will not sign a new contract with the company), or require a huge amount of unverifiable stories about his adventures. Anyway, they have a certain profile emerges: is former military or soldiers from the Donbass, born in small and poor cities. Ilya Barabanov notes that it is often the regions with the Cossack traditions: the Krasnodar territory, Orenburg and Yekaterinburg region. They sign a contract because of unemployment or having to pay for the mortgage, are trained on the basis of Molkino near Krasnodar, and then go to the place of service.

At the request of the people

Relations between Moscow and Haftarot finally deteriorated on 29 April, when he “at the request of the people” proclaimed himself the only leader of Libya. Russian diplomacy has condemned the decision. According to Sergey Lavrov, the current crisis in the Libyan settlement process cannot be an excuse for unilateral decisions. In Russia clearly came to the conclusion that a vigorous Marshal, who went with his sword unsheathed to the conquest of Tripoli, is probably not the best option, despite the support it has received from many Arab patrons. The lack of results in military terms, emphasizes the capacity and exasperated influential economic forces, including Russian oil companies, who are unhappy that they were unable to continue working due to the lack of stability.

Haftar has caused serious discontent of Russia before proclaimed themselves the Libyan leader, last winter, he left mezhliviysky talks in Moscow, slamming the door. By the way, since then Russian diplomacy has tried to diversify its contacts and, in particular, to establish contact with Agil Saleh ISA, President located in Tobruk house of representatives of Libya. According to Igor Delanoe, Deputy Director of the Franco-Russian centre “Observe” and an expert on the Middle East, Marshall “has not yet quit.” In his opinion, Russia is seeking to diversify risks in case of problems with the Haftarah, give that to feel the consequences of his fruitless adventurism by reducing support and show him that he is not the only option.

In such circumstances, “Wagner” remains an important lever in the hands of Russia, including in relation to the Haftarot. “It is a tool of the Russian government, which the Kremlin uses to achieve the objectives for less money and with less risk — emphasizes expert on Russia from the US state Department Chris Robinson. — Do not expect that Russia will collect your bags and leave, since she is so involved in the Libyan conflict”.