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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Russia Makes Fresh Attempt to Enter Liberia

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By Festus Poquie

Russian operatives are making fresh efforts to enter Liberia, one year after US intelligence showed Wagner Group, the mercenary army operated by Vladimir Putin’s deceased rogue ally Yevgeny Prigozhin was accelerating plans for a coup in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast.

The Russian have established foothold and influence in three countries in the Mano River Union basin including Guinea, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, leaving Liberia isolated, Deputy National Security Director-designate Mounir Siaplay told Senators Monday during the confirmation hearing of the country’s top spy officers.

Siaplay, who earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Oklahoma State University described as “very concerning” Russia’s attempts to extend outreach in Liberia using neighboring countries.

“We are working closely with our partners, especially with infiltration from the Sierra Leone where they are trying to use to come here,” he said about the Russian plan.

“We have seen some activities here in Liberia. We have identified their connection.”

The nominee didn’t elaborate on Russia’s specific plan for Liberia when Senators interrupted for fear he could be releasing sensitive national security information.

He promised to share details in camera with relevant members of the Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence. Beyond Russia’s geopolitical interest and role in coups and destabilization in West Africa and the Sahel, the European nation is also keen on controlling natural resources.

Russian Mercenaries and the MRU

The Russians recruited Melee Kermue, a Liberian to execute the plot in the Mano River Union countries, bring in mercenary spies under the appearance of businesspersons, a former US department of defense official who worked with the Coalition forces in Iraq said in February 2023..

Wagner’s activities in the region appear coordinated by Melee Kermue, a former U.S. convict whom Sergei Berdnikov, Russia’s ambassador in Ghana, appointed to be Russia’s honorary consul-general in Liberia, Michael Rubin a former Pentagon official said in an article published Wednesday in the Washington Examiner.

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