CNN has quoted Sudanese and regional diplomatic sources as saying that the Russian mercenary group Wagner has been supplying the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF) with missiles from their bases in eastern Libya, where rogue general Khalifa Haftar holds sway.
According to the sources, the surface-to-air missiles have significantly supported RSF paramilitary fighters and their leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo -well known as Hamiditi- as he battles for power with Sudan’s military ruler and the head of its armed forces, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
The publisher said that recent satellite imagery which showed an unusual increase in activity on Wagner bases in neighbouring Libya supports these claims.
On April 15, clashes erupted in the capital Khartoum after negotiations between Burhan and Hamiditi over a roadmap to civilian rule broke down.
The sources told the US news website that Haftar is backing the RSF, although he denies taking sides.
The CNN's report, combined with Haftar's son's visit to Sudan days before the outbreak of the clashes, invokes the specter of Russian meddling in Sudan through its ally in Libya.
"Increased Wagner activity at Haftar’s bases, combined with claims by Sudanese and regional diplomatic sources, suggests that both Russia and the Libyan general may have been preparing to support the RSF even before the eruption of violence." the publisher said.
The report stated that the uptick in movement by the Ilyushin-76 transport aircraft started two days before the conflict in Sudan began on Saturday and continued until at least Wednesday, according to satellite images and Netherlands-based open-source specialist Gerjon.
That plane, one of a class of aircraft known by the NATO designation Candid, flew from Haftar’s Khadim airbase in Libya to the Syrian coastal city of Latakia – where Russia has a major airbase – on Thursday, April 13.
The next day, it flew from Latakia back to Khadim, while on Saturday -the day the conflict erupted- the aircraft flew again to another Haftar airbase in Libya’s Jufra before parking in a secluded area, something flight tracker Gerjon considered highly unusual.
The transport plane returned to Latakia on Tuesday before flying back to the Libyan militia airbase of Khadim and then to Jufra, according to Gerjon’s research. That day, Russia airdropped surface-to-air missiles to Dagalo’s militia positions in northwest Sudan, according to regional and Sudanese sources.
Both the RSF and Wagner Group denied the claims in the report, according to CNN.
Military figures close to Haftar revealed last Thursday to the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that a transport aircraft loaded with military equipment flew from Haftar's Kharouba base in eastern Libya to the Kufra Airport in the south, near the border with Sudan, on April 17 and 18.