An Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft has met a tragic fate at Gao Airport in Mali. The aircraft, registered as EW-412TH, had arrived from Minsk, Belarus, the previous day with a scheduled departure to Istanbul, Turkey today. This incident has sparked intense speculation and raised questions about its true ownership and purpose.
Malian Army or Wagner PMC? The Ownership Puzzle
Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the ownership of the ill-fated Ilyushin Il-76. While some sources claim it belongs to the shadowy Russian private military company (PMC) known as Wagner PMC, local sources have suggested that it was a Malian army aircraft carrying equipment. This stark contrast in narratives has intensified the mystery surrounding the crash.
The Ilyushin Il-76: A Versatile Workhorse
The Ilyushin Il-76 is a renowned military transport aircraft celebrated for its versatility and capacity to transport heavy cargo and troops. It plays a pivotal role in humanitarian and military missions worldwide, making it an indispensable asset in various operations. However, the circumstances leading to this crash remain shrouded in uncertainty and are currently under investigation.
— Shadi Alkasim (@Shadi_Alkasim) September 23, 2023
The Wagner Group: A Shadowy PMC in Global Spotlight
The Wagner Group is a secretive private military company with alleged connections to the Russian government. Known for its involvement in global conflict zones, Wagner conducts covert military operations, often triggering international debates over its motives and scope of involvement. Recent developments have thrust Wagner into the spotlight. PMC Wagner’s Recent Controversies:
1. Confrontation with Russian Government: Wagner PMC has garnered attention for its confrontational stance against the Russian government. Reports suggested its forces were moving towards Moscow, openly opposing Vladimir Putin’s regime.
2. The Embraer Legacy 600 Crash: A private Embraer Legacy 600 registered as RA-02795, which was reportedly carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin, a high-ranking member of the armed group, crashed near Kuzhenkino, north of Moscow. The circumstances of this crash remain mysterious.
The Enigmatic Il-76 Cargo Plane
The Russian Il-76 cargo plane involved in the Mali crash is believed to bear the registration TL-KPA. However, due to its history of frequent re-registrations and suspected use for paramilitary purposes, this information remains uncertain. Previously, the aircraft carried the registration TL-KMZ and, before that, TL-ART. It originally belonged to TransAviaExport’s fleet with the registration EW-510TH.
Notably, this aircraft has been spotted in various African regions since March 2021, often coinciding with the presence of paramilitary forces like the Wagner Group. It has raised suspicions due to its frequent flights between Libya and Syria, fueling speculations about its operations and affiliations.