Why do Russian guys die in North Africa?
In Libya, a journalist from Yekaterinburg, Yevgeny Ilyubaev, died. According to Znak.com, he was a fighter at the Wagner PMC, and participated in hostilities in Syria and Libya. According to the publication, Ilyubaev came under fire from the American attack helicopter AH-64 Apache.
The fact of the death of the Russian was confirmed in the village of Novoorsk, where he came from. The funeral took place on October 15th.
Earlier, Meduza newspaper reported that among the dead, about 15 were residents of the Sverdlovsk region, at least two of them were Yekaterinburg residents. This is Artem Nevyantsev (call sign Hulk) and Ignat Borichev. The latter, according to Medusa, had previously fought in the Donbass. His brother, Roman Borichev, died in the assassination attempt on former LNR defense minister Alexander Bednov.
There was no official confirmation of this information.
The total number of deaths in Libya, says Medusa, can reach up to 35 people. These are immigrants from three regions of Russia: Krasnodar Territory, Sverdlovsk and Murmansk Regions.
The first reports of the death of Russians appeared on September 9, 2019. An Arabic-language Twitter account said that “seven Wagner PMC mercenaries were killed during an air raid on the building of the operational headquarters in the city of Qasr Ben Gashir” south of Tripoli. Later similar reports citing Libyan government forces were published by Al Jazeera, as well as Bloomberg.
In the United States announced the creation of a “miracle of weapons”.
Recall: The Sun wrote about the presence of Russians in Libya in October 2018. Citing sources in the British government, the newspaper reported that Russia allegedly sent “several dozen special forces troops and staff of the General Directorate of the General Staff” to support the Libyan commander, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. According to the publication, military bases were opened in Benghazi and Tobruk.
According to Medusa, Haftar turned to Russia for military assistance back in 2015, when he saw that Moscow had entered the war in Syria. In exchange, the field marshal promised that he would take control of Libya, and Moscow would allegedly be able to “get oil, railways, roads.”
During his last public visit to Moscow in November 2018, Haftar held talks with the Russian military, including Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Evgeny Prigozhin, co-owner of the Concord group of companies, who is considered the actual owner of the Wagner PMC, was sitting at the same table with everyone.
In January 2019, the French information resource Maghreb Confidential reported that mercenaries from the Russian Federation offered Haftar assistance in protecting oil fields. A source close to the Russian Defense Ministry, also claimed that the Russian presence in Libya is connected with oil and gas interests.
In March, The Telegraph wrote that the number of Wagner groups in Libya is already 300 people.
In April 2019, military clashes in Libya became more frequent: Haftar, who established control over the east of the country, led his forces to the west of the country. And the west of Libya controls the Government of National Accord created under the auspices of the UN – it is supported by the Western coalition led by the United States and Turkey.
And now – the “200” cargo (coffins with soldiers) from Libya came to Russia. And the question arises: what card does the Kremlin play in North Africa?
- We support Haftar in Libya because the government in Tripoli has been created and is sponsored by the West, – notes Mikhail Alexandrov, a leading expert at the Center for Military-Political Studies at MGIMO.
– Haftar also plays the game “both yours and ours” – trying to demonstrate that he has normal relations with the West and with Russia. But, at least, he was not a protege of the West – he appeared on his own, in the course of the internal political struggle. And this gives us a chance to take him into allies in this region.
– Why do we need Libya?
– Strengthening our presence in the Mediterranean – in Libya – it would be beneficial for us if there were a precedent on the model of the Syrian. That is, if we got a military base in Libya, and we could put pressure on the southern flank of NATO. There Italy is at hand, American bases, and not far from Gibraltar.
In fact, Libya is a strategic point that would allow us to project power in this region, and thereby limit the ambitions of NATO and the United States.
In principle, the idea with Libya is not bad. The only question is the price – how much we are willing to pay for such a presence, and whether Haftar will trate us or not.
As I understand it, Haftar promised us a lot of things during his visit to Moscow in February 2018, and asked for help.
As I understand it, Haftar promised us a lot of things during his visit to Moscow in February 2018, and asked for help. He, apparently, was denied state assistance. But when the authorities of the Russian Federation made it clear that they would not mind if Haftar establishes ties with Russian PMCs. As a result, a certain number of our military specialists working for themselves went to Libya – to fight or help as military advisers.
– Are Russian PMCs successfully operating abroad?
– Our PMCs previously operated in Syria and the Central African Republic. Moreover, in Syria they worked in parallel with our Armed Forces, but in the Central African Republic there is no our state military presence. Nevertheless, PMCs in the Central African Republic are the agents of Russian interests, and are quite successful as well.
– In Libya, according to some reports, up to 35 Russians have already died. Does this cast doubt on the presence of PMCs there?
- Well, what can you do? Anything can happen in a war. Here you need to understand: people went to PMCs as volunteers for a good salary, realizing all the risks.
And in Syria, I recall, there was a similar situation. In February 2018, in the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor, U.S. aircraft struck a convoy of Syrian troops, among which were soldiers of our PMCs. Then quite a lot of people also died – the numbers of 100 dead Russians were called.
In fact, such losses are a common story.
– Why PMCs have become an effective foreign policy instrument today?
– PMCs, if you look deep into history, have always existed. In feudal Europe there were so-called companies — mercenary troops that switched from one overlord to another and fought on their side. Moreover, they gained such power at a certain stage that they themselves dictated the policy to their employers.
In the modern world – if we take the period after the WWII – the first PMCs were created by the British and French. In France there is a Foreign Legion – it seems to be a state structure, but people from all over the world were recruited into it, and they fought for money. These are essentially mercenaries.
The British made it more cunning: they had “classic” PMCs that operated in Africa and Southeast Asia. These British PMCs, I note, still protect the interests of British companies, but if necessary, arrange coups d’etat. And then the PMC was created by the Americans.
PMCs are a very useful thing.
The state declines responsibility for the people who serve in these companies. This allows not to bear political responsibility for the actions of PMCs, and social responsibility for the dead. People in this case die for a salary, and this is their personal choice – they do not forcibly send anyone to PMCs.
Russia, I believe, needs to have full-fledged PMCs, and it is necessary to adopt a law on private military companies. In some cases, it is better if it is private interests that are involved abroad: so that the state could not be directly accused — point, say, it’s Russia intervening.
– What prevents this?
– The Russian authorities are in turmoil – apparently, in certain circles there is significant opposition to the creation of PMCs. I believe that pro-Western circles are opposed – they do not want us to have an effective foreign policy tool that the Western countries have.
I think PMCs should be created. Russians know how to fight, we have good experience, infrastructure and a base for training military specialists. PMCs could be a way for people to make good money. In the end, not all die. Then, firefighters and police officers are also constantly risking their lives – but everyone understands that this is a normal and necessary job.
Little reference: the civil war in Libya.
After the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, a single center for managing the country did not appear in Libya. In the West, power is in the hands of the Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord (PNC) in Tripoli, led by Prime Minister Faiz Saraj. The PNS was formed in the spring of 2016 on the basis of the Shirat Agreement with the support of the UN Security Council.
The east and partially south of the country are controlled by the Libyan House of Representatives, elected in 2014, known as the “government in Tobruk”. It is supported by the Libyan national army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
In addition, in Libya there are many popular (regional) militias. The south-west of the country and some settlements in the south are controlled by national minorities, in particular, the Tuareg, Tuba and Zuvaya.
Now the UN embargo on the supply of weapons and the deployment of military contingent in Libya is in force. In Libya, there are Italian and French PMCs that guard private business facilities, as well as mercenaries from African countries.