The US embassy in Tripoli has published new evidence of Russian aircraft activity in Libya that is used to support private military companies sponsored by the Russian government.
The US Army Command (Africom) has video evidence of the MiG-29 takeoff from Al Jufrah, Libya. A MiG-29 aircraft was also photographed near the city of Sirte, Libya.
“Russia’s continued involvement in Libya increases violence and delays the political solution,” said the US Marine’s dean, Bradford Gering, director of operations for Africom.
“And Russia continues to press for a strategic foothold on the southern flank of NATO, at the expense of innocent Libyan lives,” he added.
In late May, Africom reported that at least 14 MiG-29 aircraft and several Su-24 fighters were transported from Russia to Syria, where they were repainted to hide their Russian marks to disguise their source. These aircraft were then transported to Libya in direct violation of the United Nations arms embargo.
“We know that these fighters were not in Libya before and were not repaired there. Obviously, they came from Russia and did not come from any other country,” said Colonel Chris Carnes, United States director of public affairs for Africa.
He added that Russia’s introduction of armed attack aircraft by a pilot to Libya is changing the nature of the current conflict and increasing the risk of all Libyans, especially innocent civilians, being exposed to danger.
“There is concern that these Russian planes are operated by mercenaries of inexperienced and non-governmental private military companies and will not abide by international law, that is, they are not bound by the conventional laws of armed conflict,” said Gering. “If this is true and the bombing occurred, innocent Libyan souls would be at risk.”
As the first arms dealer in Africa, Russia continues to benefit from violence and instability across the continent.
Private military companies supported by the Russian government, such as the Wagner Group, are active in sixteen countries from across the African continent. It is estimated that there are about 2000 members of the Wagner Group in Libya.
“Russia has relentlessly held on to an unbelievable denial in the media, it is difficult to deny the facts. Russian intervention and concealment of activity in Libya are clear and it is delaying progress. The progress that the Libyan people deserve” said Colonel Chris Karnes, director of public affairs for the United States Command in Africa.