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WSJ: Ukrainian commandos fight Russian influence in Sudan

by Martin Fornusek March 6, 2024 2:17 PM 2 min read
Illustrative purposes: A man stands by as a fire rages in a livestock market area in al-Fasher, the capital of Sudan's North Darfur state, on Sept. 1, 2023, in the aftermath of bombardment by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). (AFP via Getty Images)
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Small Ukrainian army teams took part in hostilities in Sudan, helping the country's leader fend off Wagner Group-backed rebel forces, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 6, citing unnamed Ukrainian and Sudanese military officials.

Russia maintains a strong presence in African countries like Sudan through Wagner and other entities, propping up authoritarian governments, fueling destabilization, and extracting resources to fund its war against Ukraine.

Claims have previously appeared in other media publications that Ukrainian special forces took part in operations in Sudan and are responsible for strikes against Wagner-backed militants.

According to the WSJ, Sudan's de facto ruler, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, appealed to Ukraine for assistance in the summer of 2023 while besieged by rebel forces. The civil war in the African country between Burhan's military government and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary broke out in April 2023.

Kyiv responded positively in order to curb Russia's influence abroad, but also because "Burhan had been quietly supplying Kyiv with weapons since shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022," the outlet wrote.

Ukrainian commandos allegedly landed in Sudan in mid-August 2023, took part in a fight to push rebel troops out of Khartoum, and provided Burhan's guards with new rifles, equipment, and training. According to the WSJ, no Ukrainian team that was deployed in Sudan suffered any casualties.

Kyiv has not publicly confirmed involvement in the war in Sudan. Participation in the hostilities could threaten to sour relations with major partners like the U.S., who accused both the government and the rebel forces of war crimes and urged against providing military support to the belligerents.

Zelensky held an "unplanned meeting" with Burhan at the Shannon Airport in Ireland in September 2023, discussing security matters and activities of Russian-backed groups in Sudan.

Opinion: A Russian victory in Ukraine would be bad for Africans
Nineteen-thirty-eight is an apposite metaphor for 2024, of a world poised on the brink of a devastating war. The pieces are all there: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, tensions across the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. increasingly divided and isolated, the Middle East divided along sectarian and tribal lines…
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