UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Russia has avoided publicly aligning itself with one of the parties to the military conflict in Libya to preserve its interests, but in the backyard it has chosen a camp that favors and is betting, according to experts, on Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
Russia, the old ally of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, has stepped up its efforts in recent years to emerge as a relatively neutral mediator in Libya, recalling the bitter memory of not meeting Western intervention in 2011.
The Kremlin renewed its call to “all parties” Monday to avoid “bloodshed” in Tripoli, where the attack by forces loyal to Hafter so far has led to dozens of deaths. In recent days, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with Marshal Khalifa Hafer, who had previously visited Moscow in 2017, and then met with an official in the national reconciliation government.
“Russia supports Hafter, who speaks Russian and has already met Defense Minister Sergei Shweigo,” political scientist Alexei Marchenko told AFP. But he added that Russia “can not fully support it at the moment.” Everything will depend on his ability to control Tripoli and the size of the victims who will fall in the process.”
The researcher at the Middle East Conflict Analysis Center in Moscow, Alexander Schumelin, sees Russia’s communication with Hafez’s opponents in the National Accord Government as “a cover and claim of a balanced approach that does not really exist.”
As a sign of support for the strong Libyan east man, Moscow on Sunday blocked a statement by the Security Council that would have called on Hafar’s forces to stop the attack and said it wanted the statement to go to all sides.
If Moscow denies any support, the British newspaper The Sun, in addition to The Telegraph, citing oil industry sources, indicated that Russian mercenaries belonging to the private firm Wagner have been sent to Libya. The company is located in Syria and in several African countries.
Moscow sometimes uses this mysterious group, which, if necessary, exceeds the Russian army and provides the forces of the Field Marshal Hafer in Libya with artillery pieces, tanks, drones and ammunition, according to sources told by the British newspapers. This information was not officially confirmed at all.
– Weapons, oil and oil –
Russia, through its relative caution, hopes to maintain its economic interests in the oil-rich country, which plunged into chaos after the fall of Colonel Gaddafi in late 2011.
For example, during a visit to Moscow in October, Libyan Economy Minister Nasser al-Dersi expressed his desire to buy 1 million tons of Russian wheat, referring to the re-launching of a Russian project to build a 2.5 billion euro railway that was halted by the war.
Before 2011, Moscow secured several billion dollars worth of promising contracts related to the sale of weapons and oil projects in Libya, which was then one of its main Arab customers.
“Libya is the oil, the Russians are getting closer to it for a long time,” Malachenko said, referring to Moscow’s desire to “show its presence” in Libya after its achievements in Syria and its gradual return to several African countries.
– “Moscow man” –
Russia did not prevent 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, and abstained from voting with China on the Security Council to block this intervention. Westerners deceived it after the killing of Gaddafi, an ally of Moscow since the Soviet era.
In subsequent years, she established her relations with Marshal Hafer carefully after returning home in 2011 following a 20-year exile.
“Hafater is ideologically close to Russia and is actively cooperating with him and has obtained Russian weapons,” Schumelin said.
For his part, Malachenko believes that after Russia’s rescue of its ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Libyan crisis would represent an opportunity for Russia to move a new step in the face of Washington. “A victory for Hafter would be very inconvenient for the United States, where he is a Putin man,” he says.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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