Reuters has revealed insights into the discussion held between Khalifa Haftar and Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunes Bek Yevkorov, during the latter’s visit to Benghazi this week.
The agency reported, based on information from undisclosed officials, that Yevkurov informed Haftar on Tuesday that fighters from the Wagner Group would remain in Libya under the supervision of the Russian government.
The Russian military clarified to Haftar that Wagner’s fighters would report to a new commander. This meeting came only a day before the plane crash in Russia, which Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, is believed to have died in. Earlier in the week, Prigozhin published a video online elaborating on the group’s activity in Africa.
The military group has been instrumental in Russia’s clandestine operations abroad, providing geopolitical and military leverage, in addition to establishing a lucrative financial network controlling gold mines and oil fields in different parts of the African continent, including oil facilities in Libya, according to international reports.
Wagner was also pivotal in Haftar’s military assault on the capital Tripoli in 2019, and enabled him to make important advancements towards the center of the city, before the turn of events forced the assault to fail, and Haftar’s forces along with Wagner’s fighters withdrew to the central desert regions in the country south of Sirte.