British Sources Point to Presence of 'Russian Mercenaries' in Khartoum

British Sources Point to Presence of 'Russian Mercenaries' in Khartoum

Friday, 11 January, 2019 - 10:15
A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on December 16, 2018 shows Syrian Regime President Bashar al-Assad (L) receiving his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir upon his arrival at the airport in the Syrian capital Damascus (AFP Photo/STRINGER)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Russian-speaking mercenaries were spotted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum which has raised questions about the Kremlin’s intention to move to support the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, in the wake of angry public protests that erupted last month, according to a report published in the British The Times newspaper on Thursday.

According to the newspaper, “the apparent deployment of Russian muscle comes as the Kremlin seeks to develop trade, security, and defense links to sub-Saharan Africa.”

Over the past two years, the Kremlin has authorized the establishment of civilian nuclear power projects in the Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Sudan. Russian companies are also involved in a major project worth $400 million for Zimbabwe’s uranium mines, a large nuclear power plant to be built in Egypt and a $220 million bauxite project in Guinea.

The report said that sources in the Sudanese opposition reported that mercenaries from Russia’s PMC Wagner were conducting strategic and practical training for local security and intelligence services.

In the Central African Republic, hundreds of Wagner fighters are believed to be stationed next to Sudan, helping train Sudanese military.

The report added that in July, three Russian journalists were killed in an ambush when they attempted to verify the activity of mercenaries. In 2017, the US Treasury Department listed the Russian company Wagner on a long list of Russian individuals and companies subject to US sanctions because of their involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

It is estimated that the company has 2,500 fighters working in the Syrian civil war.

“In Sudan, Caucasian Russian-speaking men wearing camo were photographed as they were transported in trucks. The same fighters were noticed during the protests in Khartoum,” according to the report.

The Russian government has hosted Al-Bashir twice. The British newspaper said that Bashir has agreed to help Russian President Vladimir Putin achieve his ambitions to secure more Russian influence on the African continent.

Bashir held a meeting last month with Syria's Head of Regime Bashar al-Assad. The Russian side secured his flight on a military plane from Khartoum to Damascus.

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