Small Wars Journal

Russia Leans on Mercenary Forces to Regain Global Clout

Mon, 02/24/2020 - 12:14am

Russia Leans on Mercenary Forces to Regain Global Clout by Benoit Faucon and James Marson - Wall Street Journal

In October, dozens of armed Russian mercenaries fanned out across two Libyan oil ports. Brought in by a renegade Libyan general, they helped rebel forces wrest control of the oil-rich region from the Libyan government.

After the fighting ended, a delegation of mining and oil executives from former Soviet states arrived seeking business with the rebels who now controlled the ports, Libyan immigration records show.

Almost three decades after the collapse of the Soviet empire, Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a mission to rebuild Moscow’s international influence in the Middle East and Africa. The campaign relies partly on building alliances with developing countries outside official channels, often through proxies such as private security contractors, businesses and advisers, according to people involved and European security officials.

Russian activity in the Middle East and Africa coincides with a pulling back in those regions by the U.S. and its European allies. During a three-country tour of Africa last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that the Trump administration is considering reducing military forces in Western Africa.

The Russian campaign has drawn the attention of U.S. and European officials who worry about the impact of growing Russian influence in the regions…

Read on.