Russia steals gold from Sudan under the guise of exporting biscuits to fund war in Ukraine – CNN

Russia is stealing gold in Sudan with the help of the Wagner PMC, disguising the export of the precious metal as the export of cookies, in order to financially support the war unleashed by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. It is reported by CNN, citing sources.

According to the publication, even at the beginning of the war, in February, a Russian cargo plane was found at the airport of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, which, according to the documents, was loaded with “cookies”. At that time, disputes arose between officials at Khartoum International Airport, as some workers feared that checking the plane would displease the Russian government. According to the publication, previous numerous attempts to intercept aircraft with suspicious cargo were thwarted.

However, in the end, they decided to check the boxes with the “cookies” and it turned out that wooden boxes with a ton of Sudanese gold were hidden under it. This incident, according to official sources in Sudan, is one of at least 16 known cases of gold being smuggled out of Sudan by Russian flights.

Senior Sudanese and American officials said that with such a scheme, Russia wants to protect itself from the impact of harsh Western sanctions and support military operations in Ukraine. To do this, the Russian Federation entered into an agreement with the military leadership of Sudan, which allows you to export gold and deprive the country of hundreds of millions of dollars of income. In return, Russia provided strong political and military support to Sudan's military leadership, journalists say. For example, Russia actively supported the military coup in Sudan in 2021 that toppled the transitional civilian government.

At the heart of the “quid pro quo” between Russia and the Sudanese military junta is Yevgeny Prigozhin, who sponsors the Wagner PMC. U.S.-sanctioned Meroe Gold, a subsidiary of Prigozhin's M-invest, supplies weapons and trains the Sudanese army and paramilitaries, after which it mines the gold, according to CNN.

Denis Korotkov, a correspondent for the Dossier Center's investigative department, said that Prigozhin has developed a whole strategy to allow the Kremlin to steal gold:

“Through Meroe Gold or other companies associated with Prigozhin’s employees, he has developed a strategy to plunder the economic resources of the African countries in which he interferes, in return for his support of incumbent governments.”

At least one high-ranking Wagner fighter, Alexander Sergeevich Kuznetsov, known by the codenames Ratibor and Radimir, has overseen operations at key Sudanese gold mining, processing and transit facilities in recent years. He fought in Libya and commanded the first Wagner assault and reconnaissance company in 2014, and was awarded the Russian Order of Courage four times. The EU imposed sanctions against Kuznetsov in 2021.

CNN has reached out to the Foreign Ministry, the Russian Defense Ministry and a group of companies run by Prigozhin for comment. None of them responded to the request. A State Department spokesman said the US is closely monitoring the matter, including reports of Meroe Gold and Wagner PMC activities.

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