The Abu Dhabi Express: Assessing UAE Support for The Wagner Group in Libya

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In late 2020, as the first major ceasefire in Libya’s decade-long proxy war was under negotiation, news broke of a Pentagon report suggesting that the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, co-financed the operations of the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-backed network of Russian private military security contractors. Although the Pentagon report presented no direct evidence of financial ties between the UAE and the Wagner Group, it raised questions about the UAE’s links to the Russian military outfit and its chief financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has been sanctioned by the United States in connection with his role in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria as well as interference in U.S. elections.

For more than a year, allegations have swirled about close collaboration between the UAE and Russia in the financing and deployment of thousands of Russian Wagner Group operatives in Libya. Emirati officials have denied having any involvement and pushed back against the notion that the UAE has a close defense partnership with Russia. But an open source investigation conducted by New America’s Future Frontlines team in collaboration with C4ADS indicates that Russian citizens and companies tied to a Wagner Group contingent that has been spotted across the Middle East, Africa, and in Ukraine appear to form the backbone of a sprawling military supply and logistics chain that spans from central Russia to the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. 

New America’s new report, The Abu Dhabi Express: Analyzing the Wagner Group’s Logistics Pipeline & Operations in Libya, reveals, however, that Russian and Emirati adventurism has come at high cost for Wagner Group fighters and Libyan civilians. Findings in the report also come on the heels of recent U.N. allegations that the Wagner Group has been implicated in war crimes in Libya, and renewed concerns about the expansion of Russian mercenary operations in other parts of Africa. To learn more, join the authors of report Future Frontlines director Candace Rondeaux, Jack Margolin, Program Director at C4ADS, and journalist Oliver Imhof in a conversation moderated by Foreign Policy’s Amy Mackinnon.

Speakers:

Candace Rondeaux
Director, Future Frontlines, New America
Professor of Practice, Arizona State University
Co-Author, The Abu Dhabi Express: Analyzing the Wagner Group’s Logistics Pipeline & Operations in Libya

Jack Margolin
Program Director at C4ADS
Co-Author, The Abu Dhabi Express: Analyzing the Wagner Group’s Logistics Pipeline & Operations in Libya

Oliver Imhof
Freelance Investigative Journalist
Co-Author, The Abu Dhabi Express: Analyzing the Wagner Group’s Logistics Pipeline & Operations in Libya

Amy Mackinnon (moderator)
Nation Security and Intelligence Reporter, Foreign Policy

Date
November 3, 2021
Run time
1:00:59
Location:
Online
Presented by:
Arizona State University and New America