U.S. seeks to expel Russian mercenaries from Sudan and Libya
The United States (US) wants to expel the Wagner Group, a military contractor with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, from Libya and Sudan, according to The Associated Press.
According to the regional officials from The Associated Press, the US pressured the Middle East allies to expel the Wagner Group, also known as PMC Wagner.
The Russian mercenaries have stationed themselves in Libya and Sudan in recent years. Reportedly, there are far more Wagner troops in Libya than Libyan forces.
According to US officials, the Joe Biden administration is making a broad push against the Russian mercenaries. The US has already imposed sanctions on the Wagner Group over its expanding role in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Wagner Group is a Russian paramilitary organisation owned by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of the Russian President. According to the US, the Wagner fighters have also worked in Syria and other civilian wars.
In recent months, the Biden administration has been working with Egypt and other Middle East allies to pressure military leaders in Sudan and Libya to end their ties with the Wagner group. The Libyan, Sudanese and Egyptian officials said that the US urged them to expel the private army of the Russian President from Libya and Sudan.
An Egyptian senior government official reportedly said, “Wagner obsesses them (American officials).” The Egyptian official asked for anonymity to speak freely without any interruption. The Middle East officials revealed that they were not authorised to discuss the issue with the media or reporters.
The Wagner Group is associated with east Libya-based military commander Khalifa Hifter in Libya. The group works with military leaders in Sudan.
The group has deployed thousands of operatives in Mali, Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Syria. In January this year, rights groups from the US accused the Wagner group of committing crimes against humanity in Mali.