Wagner Boss Offers to Mediate the Sudanese Conflict

Published: 26 April 2023

Khartoum Sudan copy copySudan’s capital Khartoum has turned into a battlefield since the start of the conflict. (Photo: Christopher Michel, Flickr, License)

By Josef Skrdlik

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner and a key player on the battlefields of Ukraine, has offered to mediate between Sudan's warring generals, whose fight for power has pushed the country into what now appears to be a full-blown civil war.

"I want peace for the Sudanese people," said Prigozhin, whose private military company Wagner has a track record of targeting civilians and propping up military juntas around Africa, contrasting himself with "the U.N. and many others," whom he claims are calling for bloodshed.

The fight between the chief commander of the Sudanese army, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), broke out on April 15, resulting in at least 427 deaths and 3,700 wounded, according to U.N. agencies.

The two generals joined forces to depose long-serving dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 and then again in October 2021, when they instigated a coup that dismantled the civil government and made Burhan the de facto leader of the country.

However, they disagreed over a planned integration of the RSF into the national army, which was part of a December agreement between the military and civilian representatives aiming to pave the path towards restoring civilian rule.

Dagalo, who feared that the plan would diminish his power, eventually resorted to sending the RSF to attack Burhan's forces at key military sites around the country.

Wagner's involvement in Sudan started in 2017. The group was helping to train Bashir's forces and allegedly took part in cracking down on anti-Bashir demonstrations.

According to the U.S. Treasury, Wagner has also been active in Sudan's mineral sector, mining gold through its front company M Invest and M Invest's subsidiary, Meroe Gold. In July last year, CNN, citing official Sudanese sources, reported at least 16 flights by a military plane loaded with gold from Sudan to the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, where Russia has a military airbase.

Prigozhin has denied Wagner's presence on Sudanese territory in the past two years and any involvement in the current conflict, but the Wall Street Journal cited sources saying that Prigozhin offered military assistance to the RSF.

CNN suggested that Wagner even supplied the RSF with surface-to-air missiles, using Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar as an intermediary.

Alongside Sudan, Wagner has also been active in the Central African Republic, Libya, and Mali, and recently, speculations have emerged that the group was establishing its presence in Burkina Faso.