It’s long been proven that since 2016 Russian military and mercenaries of the Wagner private military company have been taking part in the civil war in Libya, ongoing since 2011. Although Moscow has officially rejected allegations of its involvement, there is sufficient evidence backing reports on Russian military actively fighting on Libyan soil.
During this civil war, Russian mercenaries marked their participation with acts of torture, vandalism, and a bloody trail of corpses they left behind.
After the most recent retreat of Haftar’s forces alongside Russian mercenaries in the area of Tarhuna, a lot of bodies were found in city hospitals (including bodies of women and children), containers where prisoners had been burnt alive, wells with the bones of executed captives, and at least eight fresh mass graves. Preliminary reports claim dozens were buried alive there. It remains a challenging task to find out the exact number of bodies thrown into those mass graves. In one of those horrific sites, for example, at least two dozen badly decomposed bodies, which could be of entire families, had been exhumed.
UN mission monitors in Libya said they welcomed the decision made by the Libyan justice chief to set up an investigation committee, and called on its members to start work as soon as possible to study the sites of mass graves, identify victims, establish cause of death, and hand over the bodies to families.
In turn, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed shock at the morbid findings and demanded a thorough investigation and prosecution of those responsible.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said the EU was concerned about the discovery of mass graves in the area of Tarhuna and called for authorities to punish those responsible for the massacres.
Being directly affected by the situation in Libya due to geographical factors (primarily due to refugee flows), Italy has separately called for an independent and transparent investigation to identify and punish the perpetrators. The Italian diplomacy described the discovery of mass graves as a “terrifying event.”
As for the tools employed by the Russian military and PMC Wagner militants, nothing is surprising any longer following their incursion in Syria where they fought the civil war on the side of Bashar al Assad, backing his authoritarian regime.
The civilized world also remembers well the recent events in the SAR, including indiscriminate, wide-effects area missile attacks by the Russian navy Caspian flotilla leading to massive civilian casualties; carpet bombings by Russian air force that didn’t even spare of residential neighborhoods, schools and hospitals; the repeated use (along with Assad’s troops) of chemical weapons; executions of local dissenters, as well as torture and killing of PoWs.
Meanwhile, a source in one of the European intelligence services, who is closely focused on Libya developments, says General Kochetkov is now in the lead of the Russian contingent in Libya (headquartered in El-Merj). His general ignorance, exaggerated self-esteem, poor professional training and dubious moral qualities are clearly reflected with his subordinates’ actions towards the local population.
According to the insider’s information, Kochetkov is known for bragging about his illusory superiority in communication with servicemen he has been entrusted to command, demonstrating his neglect and contempt of subordinates.
Limited in general knowledge and illiterate in military art, the Russian general resorts to insulting and humiliating people around him, while his usual language of command is full of obscenities.
As a result, Russian troops deployed in Libya see Kochetkov as an ignorant and narcissistic person full of complexes, who has been building a career on personal loyalty to command rather than professional skills.
In this regard, neither career officers nor mercenaries show any respect for their chief and his disastrous operational plans.
At the same time, the source notes, having come to Libya in hope to cash in on the deployment, Russian fighters, rather than following their superior’s ignorant orders, resort to robberies and looting, as well as taking locals hostage for ransom.
If their captives turn out to be lacking cash or valuables to secure release, Russians simply take pleasure in tormenting the poor people of whom they have total control.
In general, despite the fact that hostilities inevitably lead to casualties, participation of Russian military and mercenaries (in Libya, Syria, the Congo, and Sudan) is invariably marked with torture, intimidation, and shocking acts of violence (dismemberment of bodies, spine fracturing, cutting stomachs open, setting off grenades in victim’s groin, crushing bones with a sledgehammer, burning people alive, etc.)
One can only hope that timely investigation (with international participation) of the crimes committed by Russian mercenaries and military will at least somehow help stop them in their bloody trail that has been stretching across the globe.