About the activities of Russian PMCs in Libya
According to the resource "opex360.com" in the article "Libye: Une société militaire privée russe a envoyé des démineurs près de Benghazi", in accordance with Article 359 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, activities related to mercenarism can be sentenced for up to eight Years imprisonment. However, this does not prevent the existence of private military companies (PMCs), such as Moran Security Group (registered in Belize), Tiger, Antiterror-Orel, Slavonic Corps (registered in Hong Kong) or RSB-Group headquartered in ... Moscow.
Since 2012, several attempts to legalize the activities of PMCs have failed because of the opposition of the Russian Defense Ministry and the FSB, which have negatively affected the establishment of such organizations, because of fears that such structures, financed by oligarchs, may run counter to the interests of the state. But, in fact, they are tolerated with their presence.
So, in recent months it was reported on the actions of PECs Slavonic Corps and Wagner (created by Dmitry Utkin, a former GRU officer) in Syria. The same was reported about the Donbass.
Although two Slavonic Corps executives Vadim Gusev and Yevgeny Sidorov were sentenced to three years in prison for hiring 267 Russian citizens to take part in the fighting in Syria, although they were told that they would protect oil infrastructure facilities, some PMC leaders feel confident , As Dmitry Utkin, who was seen at a reception in the Kremlin in December 2016. And the employees of the "Wagner Group" carried out operations in Syria in close cooperation with the Russian army.
The uncertainty of the legal status around the PMC is "very useful", since "officially" Russia can say that it does not participate in ground operations in Syria. And if the staff of PMCs are killed, this is not a problem of the Ministry of Defense, because in this regard there is no resonance in the media.
This appeal to the services of PMCs also allows Moscow to operate in those territories for which there is no intention of seriously interfering. The founder of the RSB-Groups and the graduate of the "KGB academy" Oleg Krinitsyn likes to repeat that "what is not forbidden is allowed". In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro last year, he claimed that 86 of his staff, all former military men with experience, carry out demining operations in Libya, in the interests of an unnamed customer.
A few months later Krinitsyn raised the curtain over the secret in an interview with Reuters. According to him, about 12 Russian PMCs sent dozens of people to the zone controlled by the national Libyan army and report to Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the authorities in Tobruk that are not recognized by the international community.
The presence of these "counterattacks" was a simple "commercial agreement," Krinitsyn specified. Their mission, which ended in February, was the demining of industrial infrastructure in the area of Benghazi, which were repulsed by the forces of Haftar from the Islamists. In addition, according to Krinitsyn, PMC has the ability to protect their lives and the lives of their customers. In addition, he noted that "according to the military canons, the attack must be followed by a counterattack. And this means that we must destroy the enemy. "
The head of the RSB-Group also noted that his company did not work with the Russian Ministry of Defense, but, on the other hand, had contacts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He did not specify whether the "mission" of contractors was approved by the government of national consensus, formed under the aegis of the United Nations. But all the facts show that this was not.
Support of Marshal Haftar by Russia is not a surprise. However, Moscow is trying to play its role in the settlement of the Syrian conflict, trying to establish a dialogue between the two warring governments. On March 3, the head of the government of national reconciliation, Fayez al-Sarray, paid a visit to Moscow.
Haftor is also assisted by Egypt and the UAE, as well as by Frania, which sent troops, advisers from the General Directorate of Foreign Intelligence (DGSE) to his disposal.
Note bmpd. It is interesting that today, with reference to the Reuters news agency, information appeared that US and Egyptian military and diplomatic sources reported that Russia deployed a limited contingent of 22 military and unknown numbers of unmanned aerial vehicles at an airbase in Egypt on the border with Libya.
Agency sources said that "the United States noticed something that could probably be Russian troops and unmanned aircraft" in the Sidi-Barrani base, located 100 kilometers from the border of Egypt and Libya. According to the interlocutors of Reuters, the purpose of this placement should be "support for the commander of the Libyan army Khalifa Haftar," who on March 3 was defeated in battles with rebels from the Benghazi Defense Brigade, who attacked the oil ports controlled by his forces.
Cairo denies the presence of the armed forces of other countries. "On the territory of Egypt there are no foreign military forces from any country. This is a matter of sovereignty, "the agency said.