These are the countries where Russia's shadowy Wagner Group mercenaries operate
RamiroWTF/YouTubeTwo members of the Wagner Group were arrested in November on allegations of spying. The two men were reportedly meeting with Saif Gaddafi, the son of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in an effort to bring the younger Gaddafi back to power in Libya. The Wagner Group is a mercenary group that's been closely linked to supporting Russian objectives in conflict zones.
In April 2018, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo confirmed that the US killed hundreds of Russians during a large firefight in Syria in early February.
"In Syria now, a handful of weeks ago, the Russians met their match," Pompeo said. "A couple hundred Russians were killed."
The Russians were part of Wagner Group, or Vagner Group, a private mercenary group reportedly contracted by the Syrian government to capture and secure oil and gas fields from ISIS.
The Wagner Group started getting attention in 2014 when its mercenaries fought alongside Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, before moving to Syria.
Here's what we know about the areas where these mercenaries are operating, and what they're doing there.1. Libya Baderkhan Ahmad / Associated Press
Washington Post reporters Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Rhagavan reported on Nov. 18 that two Russian nationals accused of spying in Libya are believed to be part of the Wagner Group.
Fathi Bashagha, the interior minister of Libya's UN-backed government, the Government of National Accord (GNA) said that the two Russian nationals were arrested on suspicion of attempting to influence local elections and trying to gather intelligence on some of the GNA's military operations.
A Wagner commander told RFERL in March 2018 that Wagner would be operating in Libya in the near future; Libyan and US officials believe that time has arrived, with Wagner mercenaries fighting on the side of Khalifa Hafter, a rebel commander fighting against the GNA.
The Washington Post, citing a US official with knowledge of the incident, said the Russian government was putting "a lot of pressure" on the GNA to release the two Russians, saying the two men were part of a Russian project to expand influence in Libya.
The two men were reportedly meeting with Saif Gaddafi, the son of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in an effort to bring the younger Gaddafi back to power in Libya. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity committed while his father was in power.
2. Syria RamiroWTF/YouTube
In 2015-2016, Wagner mercenaries moved from Ukraine to Syria, Sergey Sukhankin, an associate expert at the International Centre for Policy Studies in Kyiv and Jamestown Foundation fellow, told Business Insider in an email.
The mercenary group was contracted by Syria's state-owned General Petroleum Corp to capture and secure gas and oil fields by ISIS, reportedly being given 25% of the proceeds, according to the Associated Press.
A Russian journalist who helped break the story about the mercenaries killed by the US military in February died in April 2018 after mysteriously falling from a balcony.
3. Sudan Reuters
Wagner mercenaries were sent to Sudan in January 2018, according to Stratfor.
The Wagner mercenaries were sent to Sudan "in a conflict against the South Sudan" to back up Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's government "militarily and hammer out beneficial conditions for the Russian companies," Sukhankin said.
The mercenaries are also protecting gold, uranium and diamond mines, Sukhankin said, adding that the latter is the "most essential commodity."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a cozy relationship with al-Bashir. The two leaders met in Moscow in late 2017, where al-Bashir asked Putin for protection from the US.
The Hague has had an arrest warrant out for al-Bashir since 2009 for crimes against humanity.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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