Wagner Group suffered heavy casualties in Libya
Private contractors for the Wagner Group in Libya had suffered heavy losses. In the past few days, the bodies of Russian citizens killed in the Libyan civil war have been sent home for burial. Officially, Russia is not part of the fighting in North Africa, which has been going on for several years.
Unofficially, however, the situation in the field is very different. Former Russian soldiers, mainly from special forces, belong to the Wagner group. The notorious Russian private military company was also involved in the Syria conflict.
Wagner group in Libya
According to the Meduza investigative journalist Liliya Yapparova, Wagner has so far suffered dozens of victims in Libya. She also found some of the contractor’s names, although she tried to keep this information secret: even the contractors’ bodies are being withheld.
The most recent major battle in the Libyan civil war began in April 2019 when Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan military commander, ordered his forces on the march to Tripoli. This step led to a significant escalation of the eight-year civil war. The Haftar fights against the United Nations-recognized government of the National Agreement, which is also supported by Turkey, Qatar and a US-led coalition.
Allegedly members of the secret Russian private military contractor Wagner Group during their deployment in Syria (Photo: Wiki)
As in Syria, the first evidence of significant Russian involvement in Haftar’s advance is soon to emerge. On September 9, a Twitter user wrote that seven operators of the Wagner group in Libya had been killed in a bomb attack outside Tripoli. This is in connection with the media channel Bloomberg, which reported on the arrival of more than 100 mercenaries of the Wagner group in Libya in the first week of September to support the attack of the eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar on the capital Tripoli.
According to the Meduza, around 35 Russian mercenaries operating under the Wagner group were killed in the Libyan conflict. At least five Wagner operators and commanders as well as a handful of FSB and MVD veterans with ties to the company spoke on condition of anonymity and disclosed some information about victims. They claim that the operators in question were from the Russian regions of Krasnodar, Sverdlovsk and Murmansk.
Maxim Khlopin, the director of the Urals division of the Donbass Union of Volunteers, called a Wagner commander who had seen the attack firsthand. That commander said two of the Russian victims were Artyom “Hulk” Nevyantsev and Ignat “Benya” Borichev. Borichev’s brother had previously died as a personal bodyguard for former Ukrainian separatist commander Alexander “Batman” Bednov. Bednov was murdered in the same attack.
The strange situation for the families of the operators allegedly killed in Libya is that neither the Russian government nor Wagner himself officially informed the families of combat deaths. This contradicts the typical PMC practice of sending death certificates and any military decorations to the relatives of the killed combatants. The families have lost touch with loved ones, but officially their fate is unknown.
Formally, the Wagner Group does not exist, but it is often associated with the catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin. Reports from Russia and abroad have reported that “Wagner” is the callsign for Dmitry Utkin, who allegedly runs the company that allegedly deployed combatants in Syria, Sudan, the Central African Republic and eastern Ukraine. The latest information on their alleged use related to the Venezuelan crisis earlier this year.
The lack of information in the Utkin case is the indicator that he does not want to be known. It is believed that he will be around 49 years old, and by 2014 he was listed in the US Register of Legal Entities as the commander of the 700th Special Forces of the Russian Special Division of the Directorate of Military Intelligence of the Russian Special Unit of the Russian Military Intelligence Register