Washington — U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) says Russia recently deployed military fighter aircraft to Libya to support Russian state-sponsored, private military contractors, who are helping forces fighting the U.N.-supported Libyan government.
The Russian fighter aircraft arrived at al-Jufra Airfield in Libya from an airbase in Russia after a stop in Syria where they were repainted to camouflage their Russian origin, AFRICOM said Tuesday.
The fighter jets are expected to provide close air support for Russian military contractors with the Wagner Group, who have been supporting Libyan strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) in their yearlong offensive against the country’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend called out Russia in a press release Tuesday for expanding its military footprint in Africa by sending mercenary pilots to “bomb Libyans."
U.S. Air Force Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, warned Tuesday that Russia was setting up a means to create “real security concerns” for southern Europe in the near future.