Italy says Wagner behind migrants surge
ROME, Italy (AFP) — Italy’s defense minister on Monday accused Russia’s Wagner mercenary group of fueling irregular migration towards Europe as a way of hitting back at countries that support Ukraine.
“The exponential increase in the migratory phenomenon from African coasts is also, to a considerable extent, part of a clear strategy of hybrid warfare that the Wagner division… is implementing, using its significant weight in some African countries,” Guido Crosetto said in a press release.
Crosetto’s comments were echoed by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who said Monday during a trip to Israel that Rome had concerns “because many immigrants arrive from areas controlled by the Wagner group.”
More than 20,000 migrants have landed on Italy’s shores so far this year, compared to around 6,000 in the same period in 2022 and 2021, according to interior ministry figures.
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