The images show fighter jets, air defense missiles, land mines, and armored vehicles, all of Russian origin. Moscow uses that weaponry to back Khalifa Haftar, who is facing the United Nations-recognized government.
Russia continues to supply a wide range of weaponry to Libyan rebels , including fighter jets, air defense missiles, land mines and armored vehicles through the state-backed Wagner mercenary group, the U.S. Department of Defense said on Friday.
The Pentagon released satellite photos that it said show military equipment supplied by Wagner “on the front lines” of the Libyan conflict in Sirte, east of the capital.
Washington says Russia’s activities are contrary to a UN arms embargo on Libya.
According to the Pentagon, the photos show Russian cargo planes including IL-76, fighter jets, SA-22 missile launch vehicles, heavy trucks, and a mine-resistant armored vehicle , at Sirte and at Al-Khadim airfield. , east of Benghazi.
The director of operations of the United States Command for Africa (Africom), Bradford Gering, said the photographs are evidence that Moscow is building its presence in Libya on the side of the eastern Libyan strongman, Khalifa Haftar , who is fighting to take the power of the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, recognized by the UN.
“The type and volume of equipment demonstrates an intention towards sustained offensive combat action capabilities, not humanitarian aid , and indicates that the Russian Defense Ministry is supporting these operations,” Gering said in a statement.
Africom has documented Russia’s provision, through the Wagner Group, of at least 14 Mig-29 and Su-24 fighter jets for the conflict in Libya.
Last week, he accused the group of laying land mines in and around Tripoli.
“The Russian Federation continues to violate the Resolution of the UN Security Council, UNSCR 1970, by actively providing military equipment and fighters to the front line of the conflict in Libya ,” Africom said in the statement.
A meeting will be held next week in the city of Vienna in which the United States and Russia will discuss, for the first time since 2013, the current agreements on nuclear weapons.
On Friday, the United States Department of State announced that the demilitarization of space will be among the issues that Washington and Moscow will address in the negotiations around the New Start treaty . This agreement expires on February 5, 2021 and is the only agreement that remains in force for the reduction of nuclear weapons between the two powers.
However, in parallel to those negotiations, another group of US diplomats will speak with the Russian delegation on July 27 about the demilitarization of space, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Friday.
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With information from AFP