Libya is Russia’s new Syria?

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Rumors that Russia supports Libya’s General Haftar, louder come the closer the troops of the capital. In Syria, Russia has to Flex its muscles in Libya, Moscow is keeping covered. .

The Libyan Warlord General Haftar leaves a Meeting in Moscow with a Russian “ushanka” on the head

The conflict in Libya is coming to a head. The reactions from Moscow are cool and rational. During a visit to Egypt by Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, Russia’s task was “to help the Libyan people to overcome their differences in order to make a stable Convention,” to reconcile the sides. Least of all, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia will use every opportunity to all sides to call to bloodshed and to avoid civilian Deaths.

Delicate diplomatic Situation

Since the beginning of April, the troops of the powerful General Khalifa Haftar’s move on to the Libyan capital, Tripoli. There, the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fajis al-Sarradsch, Haftar accused of planning a coup. Haftar is the leader of the self-proclaimed “Libyan national army”, which is supported by a rival government in the East of the country.

Russia has not expressed an opinion on the escalation of the conflict so far, it is clear for a page. “For Russia, it is a very delicate diplomatic Situation”, says Vyacheslav Matuzow, a longtime Diplomat, the expert, now works as an independent middle East.

Conflict in Libya: government soldiers are preparing a counter-offensive against General Haftar before

The closest allies of Russia support in the conflict, the various sides: Turkey and Algeria, for example, behind the government in Tripoli, which also recognise the United Nations. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, however, support General Haftar. Egypt and Algeria are two of the most important buyer of Russian weapons. The Turkey is for Russia in General is an important international Partner. The countries cooperate in the war in Syria, and, most recently, the Turkey ordered, even missiles from Russia. A Deal that adds to a lack of understanding in the NATO-partners of Turkey.

Matuzow explains, the main reason is that Russia goes in this diplomatic mess, the fear of Chaos in Libya. This could lead to a strong of the so-called Islamic state and Russia is a security issue.

Tightrope Libya

Also, the independent Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer says that Libya was for Moscow a diplomatic puzzle. “Russia will act in this conflict to be very careful, and not open to a page, say,” he says. However, while Matuzow emphasized that Russia’s neutral statements on the attitude of the government reflect, says Felgenhauer, it was “obvious” that Moscow Haftar support. However, the Kremlin denies previously vehemently.

In fact, both Prime Minister Al-Sarradsch and General Haftar, visited, already, the government in Moscow. Haftar seems to be in favor with the Kremlin, but in front. He visited Moscow since 2016 three times and was 2017, even with on Board Russia’s most famous aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov” – allegedly for a video conference with Russia defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Confusing Situation: the parties to The conflict in Libya

Felgenhauer believes that money is the main reason, from the Moscow Haftar. The General has the final Say over almost all regions of the country, in which Oil is produced. “This means that He has the money. And that means that he is in Moscow,” says the Analyst.

In spite of the arms embargo of the UN against Libya, says Felgenhauer, Russia should not try to sell weapons to Haftar – if that does not happen. The death of Libya’s long time dictator Muammar Al-Gaddafi in 2011, is said to have brought to Russia, according to estimates of arms sales in the billions of value.

On 7. April blocked Russia a statement by the UN security Council, the panel would have prompted Haftar to stop his Advance on Tripoli. Veto-Power Russia blocked the statement with the note that all forces in the country should put an end to their fighting. For Felgenhauer is a clear Signal for Russia’s tacit support for Haftar.

Cloudy Characters

Some media reports, Russia is looking for but also in a very concrete way, in order to position itself in the Libyan conflict. By the end of 2018, the Russian newspaper, RBC reported, citing the environment of the Russian defense Ministry that Russian troops in the East of Libya were. The independent newspaper Noyaya Gazeta has published a Video that the entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigoschin in talks with General Haftar in Moscow.

Prigoschin is a close Trust of President Vladimir Putin. He plays a shady role in Russia’s power structure and is supposed to lead the Russian “Troll factory” for social media and a private military company with the name “Wagner Group”. The company is allegedly kicked again and again in conflicts around the world, such as in Eastern Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela and the Central African Republic.

Meeting with both sides: Russia’s foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (right) in 2017, with the Libyan Prime Fajis Al-Sarradsch

According to Ex-Diplomat Matuzow, it is Russia, not possible to send mercenaries to Libya. Such messages, he is doing as “disinformation”. If it were, you would already know a long, long time, he says. Because of the secrets it is not in Libya because of the fighters, the Situation always develops from a struggling group to another substitute – “depending on”.

Military expert Felgenhauer, however, says he think it is very likely that Russian mercenaries are present on Libyan soil and in the Libyan air space. This would be an elegant solution for Russia’s diplomatic Problem in the country, says Felgenhauer. Since private mercenaries cannot be directly linked to the government, Russia could intervene actively in the conflict and at the same time not to intervene.

Syria 2.0?

Beginning in 2018, Russia announced that troops from Syria to deduct and fired the rumors about a possible military operation in Libya. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Russia is planning a large-scale Intervention in Libya, as four years ago in Syria. Mainly because it is still active in Syria.

The situation is clear: In Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) openly supports the regime of Assad

“The task in Syria is not yet done,” says Felgenhauer. “And the capacity of the Russians are already overused. We are no longer the Soviet Union.” Intervention in Libya, says the Analyst, also take care not to Russia’s overall strategic goals: “The main drive of the Russian Foreign and military policy is Anti-Americanism. The work in Syria and Venezuela. But in Libya is not even clear who the Americans support.”

Also Matuzow does not believe that Libya Russia new Syria. The two military bases, built up by Russia in Syria, be enough to achieve its goals in the Middle East. A further could not afford to pay for Moscow, he says. And, ultimately, Russia was confronted with a major military offensive in Syria: “Libya is like quicksand. Everybody that sets foot on it, sinks.”