The Wall Street Journal said the CIA director, William Burns, had pressured “Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar” in mid-January to expel Russian mercenary group Wagner, according to European and Libyan security officials.
The officials said that the CIA director’s warning came amid fears that the Wagner group may tap into the country’s oil riches.
During the Libyan visit, Burns warned Khalifa Haftar about hosting the Russian mercenaries. Burns’s visit to Libya, where he also met in Tripoli with Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, was part of a renewed campaign by US President, Joe Biden‘s, administration against Wagner.
Burns said in an appearance at Georgetown University in Washington on Thursday that the Wagner Group was “a particularly creepy Russian organization.”
“We’re working very hard to counter it because that’s threatening to Africans across the continent right now,” the Central Intelligence Agency director added.
The officials said, according to the Wall Street Journal, Wagner had retained a presence of 300 Russians and 700 Syrians in the Libyan East, including around oil facilities and Haftar’s Al Khadim airbase.