“For years Russia supported eastern military forces in Libya, but now Moscow is working with the Tripoli government to reopen its embassy there,” Al-Monitor.
Russia is to reopen its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Monday. The embassy has been closed for more than nine years due to the deteriorating security situation in the North African country.
A Libyan diplomatic source, speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, said: “Russia is making arrangements in coordination with the Government of National Unity headed by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah to reopen the embassy. Embassy staff would first start working from a hotel until a secure site is found to set up the new embassy headquarters amid recurring clashes between militias in the capital.”
Russia was one of the first countries to recognize the rival government led by Fathi Bashaga, who was appointed by the eastern parliament in February.
Moscow appears to be rethinking its policy towards Libya after Bashaga made several failed attempts to seize the capital and Dbeiba refuses to hand over power.
Fathi al-Baja, a former Libyan diplomat, told Al-Monitor that Russia’s shift in Libya must be understood in the current international context, including the war in Ukraine. He added that “Russia’s efforts to reopen its embassy in Tripoli may also be part of a deal between Dbeiba and Moscow so that Dbeiba can pressure Western powers to accept his stay in power.”
Baya noted, “Russia is trying to send the United States a message that it can act in Washington’s spheres of influence, and that’s a game Moscow is good at.”
The Russian moves coincide with the appointment of Mohamed Magrawi as Libya’s ambassador to Moscow.
Throughout the conflict in Libya, Russia has backed the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army led by eastern military commander H. Haftar against forces loyal to successive Tripoli-based governments. Moscow has also sent thousands of mercenaries to fight in Libya through the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group.
However, amid rumors that Moscow will soon withdraw its mercenaries from Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Italy’s Mediaset in May that the Wagner Group is present in Libya on a “commercial basis” and “has nothing to do with the Russian state. ”
Libyan political analyst Mohammed Mahfouz told Al-Monitor: “The recent Russian change in Libya shows that it may take some real steps in the coming days. Leaks about Russia’s withdrawal of Wagner mercenaries from southeast Libya may turn out to be true as it looks to turn its military and logistical role into a diplomatic one.”
Mahfouz said the Russian move came after the normalization of its relations with eastern Libya, explaining: “It is known that Turkish actions are in full agreement with the US, which could thus lead to a significant reduction of Russia’s influence in Libya”.
However, the Libyan diplomatic source stressed that Russia still refuses to withdraw its mercenaries, saying: “Russia is keeping the mercenaries as collateral in its negotiations with Western powers, as these mercenaries control some oil fields in Libya.”
Libya’s 5+5 Joint Military Commission, which consists of five senior government officials based in Tripoli and five appointed by Haftar, called in January 2021 for the withdrawal of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from the country. But that move remains unlikely as long as Russia and Turkey refuse to implement it.”
At the same time, Turkish media are “targeting” Crete once again.
“Rep. Dr. Abdurrahman Babacan: One of the key points of energy geopolitics in the Eastern Mediterranean is the southern point of Crete, that’s where we have to act, that’s where we have to focus”!