The US Department of Defense says the UAE has provided financial assistance to Russia’s mercenary group Wagner. The Pentagon document, reported by foreignpolicy.com, points to the long-time US ally as a financier.
The report released last week was prepared by the Pentagon’s chief inspector responsible for anti-terrorism operations in Africa.
The Wagner Group, founded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigojin, a businessman known for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is accused of conducting operations in conflict-zones for Russian intelligence.
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The Kremlin denies that the group has ties to the state.
The Pentagon’s findings could complicate the close ties between the US and its Gulf ally, as Democrats in Congress continue to campaign against the Trump’s administration’s $23 billion sale of missiles, F-35 fighter jets, and drones to Abu Dhabi.
Some 29 arms control and human rights organizations have signed a letter opposing the sale of and asking Congress to block the deal.
Years of violence
Claims that the UAE used Russian mercenaries to hide its role in the Libyan conflict have long been voiced by observers in the country.
The Government of the National Accord dominates Tripoli and the west, while the eastern part of the country is controlled by warlord Haftar.
Following a year-long but ultimately abortive attempt by Haftar to seize Tripoli, the two sides signed a formal truce deal in October, pumping new life into UN-led efforts for a political solution to the conflict.
News of the Pentagon’s findings come as the Libya rivals begin new rounds of talks in Morocco as part of stepped-up efforts to bring an end to a decade of conflict.