The Russian Foreign Ministry, which typically denies any reports of contractors, or mercenaries, operating outside of the Russian Federation in conflict zones, admitted Wednesday that Russian nationals working for private security companies were ‘in-country’.
The Foreign Ministry was pushing back against reports that the trained professionals were helping the Sudanese government put down the protests, Sudan being a long-term Russian ally.
“According to our information, representatives of Russian private security companies, who have nothing to do with Russian state bodies, really do operate in Sudan,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters, reported The Moscow Times.
“Their task [of the private security firms] is limited to training staff for the military and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Sudan,” she said.
The Moscow Times also reported, Official statistics from the Russian Federal Security Service available online show a surge in the number of Russian citizens who departed for Sudan in late 2017.
Two hundred Russians traveled to Sudan in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the data. Prior to that, the highest number of Russians heading to the African country was 76 in any given quarter since 2013, the same data showed.
Russian mercenaries have also been active in Syria, Ukraine and the Central African Republic (CAR), where the ‘Wagner Group’, run by the man deemed ‘Putin’s Cook’, Evgeny Prigozhin, is extremely active harvesting local commodities and minerals. Three journalists were murdered in CAR last year attempting to report on the group’s activities. The journalists were funded by Putin’s nemesis, Mikhail Khordorkovsky. Recent reports link the murders to the CAR government and the Wagner Group.