The mentality of Russian soldiers of being mere cannon fodder has not changed since the times of Ivan the Terrible, and we can conclude this from what we have seen and read in mass media.
If we objectively disregard the “heroic deeds” – made up by the Kremlin – of Russian soldiers during World War II, it becomes evident that on the battlefield a Russian soldier will follow the following tactics: we hit the weak and the sleeping, but if we feel we’re being dominated we run away with our tails between our legs. Only one thing is puzzling: how is Putin able to convince Russian soldiers to naively head towards their senseless deaths in the deserts of Libya and Venezuelan jungles?
It is no secret that at this moment Russian soldiers are spilling their own blood and the blood of peaceful citizens in Libya. As you might have seen, they do not only spill blood, but they beat with hammers and occasionally throw someone on the fire too.
According to media reports and “secret” UN documents, there are at least a couple thousand mercenaries of the Russian private military company Wagner in Libya in order to protect the regime of commander Khalifa Haftar. According to the UN, Putin’s cutthroats are in Libya since October in order to provide technical support in the maintenance of military vehicles and, of course, to participate in combat operations.
A year ago, Haftar began a war for power in Tripoli and northwestern Libya, but essentially since 2014 there is an ongoing war with participation by Russian military persons and mercenaries between the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and Haftar’s pro-Kremlin group.
The presence of Wagner mercenaries in Libya proves that the Kremlin employs private armies to reach its political goals, i.e. Russia does not use diplomatic means but quite aggressive military ones. However, this time it was futile, because the recent and numerous failures of Wagner in all imaginable fronts prove that it is not really a force to be reckoned with, but instead Putin’s cannon fodder that can only delay the enemy for the amount of time necessary to cut off the head of a Wagner mercenary.
Despite the UN’s report noting that Wagner in Libya is an effective reinforcement to Haftar’s forces, videos available online showing how often Wagner mercenaries face defeat in clashes with Tripoli forces point to a different reality, not even mentioning the hasty evacuation of Wagner men from Bani Walid.
When asked whether there are Wagner mercenaries in Libya, Putin replies that “if there are indeed Russians in Libya, they do not represent Russia”. We have already heard something like this because Russian mercenaries are “secretly” fighting in Syria and Ukraine as well. This has been proven by numerous Russian and foreign investigative journalists, but Putin and the Kremlin stubbornly continue spreading blatant lies.
According to the UN, from August 2018 to August 2019 more than 20 flights of civilian aircraft belonging to Wagner were made between Russia and eastern Libya. Currently, 122 Wagner men have been identified, including 39 snipers – when Putin’s cannon fodder faced defeat in one of the numerous battles and were forced to run, they left behind not only weapons, but also documents containing their names and surnames.
The fact that there are tensions between Wagner and Haftar’s forces do not flatter the combat capabilities and effectiveness of the private military company, therefore we cannot look at it as being a significant tool of influence for Putin. It seems that no one in Libya has any respect for Wagner. And with Turkey taking a more active role in the conflict and the deployment of Ankara-backed Syrian mercenaries in Libya in support of Tripoli, Putin’s and Wagner’s prestige has suffered greatly, if there was any to begin with. Moreover, the ceasefire negotiated in January with support from Russia and Turkey is being regularly violated.
There are reports that Haftar only paid Wagner half of the promised 173 million USD for their services of spilling blood – be it their own or someone else’s. If this is true, it just backs the assumption that Wagner has no respect in Libya.
Wagner is considered to be quite a cheap instrument for the Kremlin to spread its influence in Eastern Ukraine, Syria, Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya and Venezuela. I, however, beg to differ because the information available online shows that Wagner is great cannon fodder and an effective way of damaging Russia’s reputation, because the only thing Putin’s mercenaries are capable of is murdering civilians, and they even boast about this themselves.