Report: Russian mercenaries are helping Haftar in eastern Libya

Report: Russian mercenaries are helping Haftar in eastern Libya

September 15, 2019 - 20:04
Posted in:
Written By: AbdulkaderAssad

The Daily Beast has examined a tranche of internal communications from deep inside Russian Wagner Group Head Prigozhin’s Libya operation, always referred to simply as “the company."

These files, originally obtained by the Dossier Centre, offer documentary proof that Russia’s military role in Libya is far more extensive than has thus far been reported, the added.

The report says that the files show that, quite apart from running guns for hire and arranging Facebook propaganda campaigns, Russian operatives lately got into the business of “government-in-a-box” political consultancy for Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya.

"The Russians appear willing not only to arm but also do PR work for a variety of dubious—and rival—factions in Libya, yet they harbor no illusions as to the popularity or leadership qualities of any of these proxies." The report adds.

The Daily Beast says the Russians openly advocate rigging elections, for instance, to help Haftar in the likely event he runs for the Libyan presidency.

"Wagner Group accuses the warlord of using his publicized relationship with Russia as a bargaining chip with other actors to raise his stature—all the while failing to cooperate with or even hindering Company personnel." The report says

"Haftar, Prigozhin’s men allege, consolidates territory not by winning battles but by bribing tribal leaders and officials for the right to plant the LNA flag, using a total of around $150 million provided by the United Arab Emirates." It adds.

The report indicates that in one memo, written on April 10 this year, Haftar even spread disinformation about the presence of 300 mercenaries from the Wagner Group, going as far as having Libyan National Army troops stick paper copies of Russian license plates to their vehicles in order to give the impression of Russian support.

"Company employees were dispatched to peel off these fakes." The report remarked.

According to the report, the most significant disclosure in these files is the naming of a current Russian military officer operating in Libya.

"An April 6 briefing report states that the Libyan National Army (LNA) had suffered heavy losses as a result of precision artillery deployed by forces loyal to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord using advanced munitions. Representatives of the LNA appealed to the commander of the Russian group, Lieutenant General A.V. Khalzakov, with a request to deploy a Russian UAV to identify the location of these guns and enable the LNA to capture or destroy them, which was denied.” The report explains.

It further explains that the files refer to Lt. Gen. Andrei Vladimirovich Kholzakov, a deputy commander of Russia’s Airborne Assault Forces, although the document doesn’t state where exactly in Libya he is deployed or what his specific functions are.