Russia continues effort to position weaponry, gain foothold in Libya, US military says

There is mounting evidence of Moscow's involvement in ground and air operations in the North African country, according to the US Africa Command   

Photo: US Africa Command

Moscow is continuing to send weaponry to Russian mercenaries in Libya, demonstrating an intent to carry out sustained offensive combat in the war-torn country, the US military says. 

In a press release, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said the US assesses that Moscow supplied its mercenaries operating in the North African country with fighter aircraft, military armored vehicles, air defense systems, and supplies, further complicating the situation and increasing the risk for miscalculation leading to continued and needless violence in Libya. AFRICOM also released several recent satellite images of the deployed weaponry.   

"Russia continues to play an unhelpful role in Libya by delivering supplies and equipment to the Wagner group," said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, AFRICOM director of operations. "Imagery continues to unmask their consistent denials."

The latest imagery shows Russian military cargo aircraft, including IL-76s, continuing to supply Wagner fighters, while Russian air defense systems, including SA-22s, are present in Libya and operated by Russia, the Wagner Group or their proxies. Photos also show Wagner utility trucks and Russian mine-resistant, ambush­protected armored vehicles are present in Libya, according to AFRICOM.  

"The type and volume of equipment demonstrates an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities, not humanitarian relief, and indicates the Russian Ministry of Defense is supporting these operations," said Gering. 

According to AFRICOM, it is assessed that Russia continues to violate UN Security Council Resolution 1970 by actively providing military equipment and fighters to the front lines of the Libya conflict. 

In May, as reported by Israel Defense, AFRICOM said at least 14 Mig-29s and Su-24s had been flown from Russia to Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their origin, and then flown to Libya. 

Moscow is seen as using the Wagner Group as a proxy to establish a long-term presence on the Mediterranean Sea, AFRICOM said.