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Russian mercenaries were engaged in combat activities in Libya, U.S. Africa Command claimed on September 11. According to the AFRICOM, they conduct military missions on Russian-made fighter jets. At the same time, the U.S. Command does not provide evidence to support its statement, continuing to promote false information about the activities of members of the terrifying so-called Wagner Group in Libya.
According to Rear Admiral Heidi Berg, AFRICOM’s director of intelligence, there are at least 14 Russian fighter aircraft that are based out of Al Jufra and Al Khadim airfields in Libya.
“They are, we assess, being operated by Wagner Group,” Berg told reporters on September, 11. “These fighters are engaging in combat activities. We have seen them conduct ground strikes and conduct combat activities in country. So they are not there for training the Libyan National Army, they’re not there to simply support the LNA. They are there to conduct combat activities on behalf of their own national interests.”
“We also know they’re not that good,” Berg said, citing that one Mig-29 aircraft crashed in June followed by another on September 7.
Heidi Berg confirms that the Russians have crashed two MiG-29s in Libya so far: one on June 28, another on September 7.
Besides the recent accusations, in June, AFRICOM announced that Russia had deployed MiG-29 and Su-24 aircraft to Al Jufra Airfield in Libya. According to AFRICOM, these aircraft aimed to support Wagner Group mercenaries. The command said that they were repainted to obscure their Russian ties before ultimately landing in Libya.
It is widely known that the LNA has in service Russian and Soviet-made military equipment. The available information confirms that the fleet of this military equipment is replenished on a regular basis.
There is a practice of hiring highly qualified personnel to maintain and operate military equipment. Personnel for the supplied military equipment, in particular pilots, are hired in the countries where this equipment is operated or was previously operated, for exemple. in Russia, as well as to a greater extent in Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, etc.
Such a practice has been widely used in various countries on the African continent for 30 years. Pilots from Eastern Europe are often hired for both civil and military missions in different countries, such as Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, etc. It is estimated that military personnel from Eastern Europe account for up to 20% of the entire corps of pilots performing military and civilian orders on the African continent.
The probability of the planes that “allegedly” crashed in Libya to have been operated by the military from one of the above countries is quite high. However, it does not seem logical to conclude that the allegedly Russian mercenaries of so-called Wagner Group operate military aircraft in Libya. Once again, the US military simply uses sensational, unfounded facts to maintain an artificially created frightening image of Russia.
Heidi Berg’s statement itself is based on arguments like “We have seen”, “We also know” and is not supported by reliable facts.
Apparently, AFRICOM based its statement on a recent video that had appeared on the network, showing a Russian-speaking pilot in Libya waiting for an evacuation helicopter after his aircraft had supposedly crashed. (Link 1, Link 2) There is no evidence that this video shows the Russian mercenary. The American command did not take into account that most likely the video shows footage of exercises held. This version is confirmed by a detailed analysis of objects in the video and the behavior of the pilot, conducted by a number of military experts.
The statement by AFRICOM’s director of intelligence confirms only that either the American command is misjudging the situation, or, more likely, is deliberately presenting false information. Mythical Russian “Wagner Group” today have become the same stereotype aimed at forming a negative image of Russia, as, for example, Novichok. The infamous vial shown by Colin Powell in the UN in 2003 became the symbol of American politics.
These are not the first and certainly not the last statements designed to further stereotype Russians as “bad guys”.
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