Friday, October 23, 2020

Intel: EU sanctions suspected head of Russia’s Wagner paramilitary group

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Oct 16, 2020 The European Union on Wednesday positioned financial sanctions on Kremlin insider Yevgeny Prigozhin over his allegedly shut ties to actions of Russia’s Wagner paramilitary in Libya. “Wagner Group is involved in multiple and repeated breaches of the [United Nations] arms embargo in Libya,” together with “delivery of arms as well of deployment of mercenaries into Libya in support of [Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s] Libyan National Army,” an EU assertion launched Thursday learn. “Wagner Group has participated in multiple military operations against the UN-endorsed [Libyan] Government of National Accord and has contributed to damaging the stability of Libya and undermining a peaceful process.” The penalty features a travel ban and an asset freeze, the EU stated, including that EU residents are barred from offering funds to Prigozhin. “The council remains gravely concerned about the situation in Libya and in particular that threaten the peace, security or stability of Libya, including through violations of the UN arms embargo, human rights abuses and violations as well as the attempted illicit export of petroleum from Libya,” the assertion learn. Why it issues: Prigozhin has identified connections to President Vladimir Putin and is believed to be one of many leaders of Wagner. The group’s fighters have been noticed in conflicts from Ukraine to Syria to Mozambique and Libya. They function as an unofficial arm of the Russian Defense Ministry. A UN panel of consultants earlier this 12 months stated Wagner fighters have been concerned in fight operations in Libya, together with directing artillery hearth and dealing as sniper items. The fighters, for which the Kremlin denies accountability, have additionally been accused of battle crimes, together with butchering a Syrian man in Palmyra in 2017. They have been extra lately accused of planting improvised explosive gadgets in civilian properties throughout the retreat of Hifter’s failing Tripoli offensive earlier this 12 months. The US army has additionally stated Russia has introduced as many as 2,000 Syrian mercenaries to combat in Libya, in response to Turkey’s introduction of Syrian fighters to the battle on behalf of Libya’s UN-backed Tripoli-based authorities. Turkey elevated its help to Tripoli after Hifter launched his offensive in April 2019. In response, Russia ramped up its personal weapons and personnel deployments all through the primary half of this 12 months, the UN and the US army have stated. Earlier this 12 months, the UN Panel of Experts on Libya estimated that Russia had deployed as many as 1,200 Wagner paramilitary fighters to Libya. In September, the US Africa Command stated it believed that quantity was as excessive as 3,000. The United States has additionally stated poorly skilled Wagner pilots could also be working greater than a dozen Russian fighter plane delivered to Libya, at the very least two of that are believed to have crashed. Prigozhin was indicted within the United States for his alleged position within the Kremlin’s 2016 disinformation marketing campaign to disrupt the US presidential elections. In 2018, Russian Wagner forces partook in a disastrous late-night assault on a US-held fuel discipline in Syria, reportedly accepted by Prigozhin. What’s subsequent: So far there’s little signal Russia is keen to surrender on Hifter, although prospects for the warlord’s political future in a postwar Libya are slimmer than ever. Prigozhin has now spoken out in help of Azerbaijan amid its battle with Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. All eyes are on Russia over potential subsequent strikes in that battle. Know extra: Turkey has already deployed Syrian fighters to the Caucuses battle. Russia has objected to Ankara’s move, and Kirill Semenov examines what the Kremlin could do subsequent.

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