Whose side is Russia taking in Libya?
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, has reportedly spoken on the phone with the Deputy Head of the UN-brokered Presidential Council (PC), Ahmed Mitig, and discussed the support needed for the council and the Government of National Accord.
According to sources from the PC, Bogdanov reiterated his country’s support for the GNA as the legitimate government in Libya.
To many Libyan observers, the Russian stream of politics has become extremely difficlut to fathom for one day Russia declares its full support for the GNA and on another day it says it backs the self-proclaimed Libyan Army of Khalifa Haftar and his political background, Tobruk’s House of Representatives.
More vividly, Russian experts and military personnel have been reported by The New Arab to be working in support of Khalifa Haftar’s Operation Dignity in his eastern military base near Marj city.
The New Arab reported last week that added to the UAE and French as well as Egyptian military presence, the Russians have been spotted at Khalifa Haftar’s military base, from where most of Operation Dignity air attacks on eastern cities take off.
These reports might be a sufficient explanation for the recurrent visits paid by Khalifa Haftar and Tobruk HoR Speaker Aqilah Saleh to Russia, where they were reportedly received by both political and military officials.
The New Arab added that military agreements between Haftar and Russia have been effected and saw Haftar allocating 4 billion dinars for the assistance, which could include maintenance and backup to his weapons and naval defence systems.
Meanwhile, Russia keeps bouncing the other Libyan party slowly in the air as lately Mikhail Bogdanov said Russia has no plans to open an embassy in Libya’s capital for security reasons, in a hint that the GNA’s situation in the capital is not of much interest for Russia.
“To date, there is neither Russian military nor civilian presence in Libya. For now, we are not planning to restore it, including on security grounds. We are not even mentioning military presence,” Bogdanov told Sputnik in mid-September trying to get away from any scandals regarding their backup for Haftar’s Operation Dignity.
The question that is yet to be answered for most Libyan political stakeholders is: whose side is Russia on, is it on the GNA side to help shape stability and security with the UN-brokered legitimate institution, or is it with Haftar’s Operation Dignity and his self-proclaimed war on “terror” in Benghazi.