The Russian paramilitary group Wagner it has a "constant presence" on the border between Libya and Chad and, recently, there have been "intense movements" of Russian mercenaries between Muammar Gaddafi's former Jamahiriya and the Central African Republic. He told "Agenzia Nova" Musa Tehusay, a Libyan researcher specializing in African affairs, explaining that so far "there has been no departure" from Libya of the Russian Wagner mercenaries, "who are still in their positions". In particular, according to the expert, the Russian fighters are deployed at the Al Jufra air base, in central Libya, where Wagner's greatest "military weight" is concentrated in the North African country; at mobile locations near the Zella oil field, in the Libyan Oil Crescent, an oil-rich area in central and eastern Libya; in the areas ranging from the Zella field, to the city of Hon (the capital of the Al Jufra district) up to the border with Chad; and again in the Brak al Shati air base, in the southern regional region of Fezzan, where since the withdrawal of Tripoli forces in 2020 "there is no Libyan element" and the structure is "managed exclusively by mercenaries"; finally at the Tamanhint air base, near Sebha, the capital of Fezzan, where Wagner provides logistic support and controls truck transport. Furthermore, Tehusay also told "Nova" that in the last period there have been "intense movements between Wagner in Libya and Wagner in Central Africa via an IL18 aircraft, registered in Central Africa with the number TL-KBR, subject to sanctions by of the US Treasury".
Tehusay's words confirm what was previously declared to "Nova" by Jalel Harchaoui, associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. “Right now, Libyan eyewitnesses in Jufra claim that Wagner is still there, and those local witnesses are the only ones that really matter,” Harchaoui said, commenting on rumors by the newspaper “Ean Libya” that negotiations were underway in Libya for the withdrawal of Russian fighters from an area, that of Al Jufra, considered of strategic importance. "These news seem very reassuring, but unfortunately they lack any proof," added the expert.
According to the Washington-based Middle East insight website Al Monitor, Wagner units are also mostly present in the eastern region, particularly at Al Khadim Air Base near the city of Al Marj, and in the city of Sirte, as well as in the central region of Al Jufra. It is believed that most of Wagner's fighter-bombers and most valuable assets, including its advanced air defense systems and combat aircraft, are located here. Libyan sources tell "Agenzia Nova" that General Haftar "is not against the withdrawal of Russian mercenaries, provided, however, that the balance is maintained in the country. For Wagner's departure, he asks for guarantees, he wants to understand what the armed groups of the West will do and how Turkey will behave. To this it should be added that the Russian group, for its part, has no interest in leaving its positions in central Libya, in the Fezzan and in the Sahel. Talking about retirement is still premature”.
According to the US Africa Command (Africom), the aircraft arrived in Libya in the spring of 2020 from an air base in Russia, after transiting through Syria where they were repainted to disguise their Russian origin. Washington has repeatedly accused the Russian Federation of having supplied fighter planes, armored military vehicles and air defense systems to the Wagner group in Libya, an ally of the LNA, in violation of the UN Security Council resolution 1970 and the embargo on weapons. For its part, Moscow has always denied the allegations. Meanwhile, in a statement released to the Russian news agency "Tass", the deputy foreign minister and special representative of the Russian president for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov, declared that Moscow "will reopen its mission at full capacity". diplomat in Tripoli, specifying that the new Russian ambassador in Libya, Aydar Aganin, is travelling. According to Bogdanov, security guarantees for his diplomatic mission in Libya remain a priority for Russia.
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