300 “mercenaries linked to Russian military intelligence” have been supporting operations of the Libyan National Army (LNA), The Telegraph reported on March 3 citing own sources.
“The murky private military company Wagner Group has been supporting Khalifa Haftar with 300 personnel in Benghazi and has supplied his Libyan National Army with artillery, tanks, drones and ammunition, a Whitehall source said.
A source close to the Libyan Russian Oil & Gas Joint Company started in Benghazi in April told The Telegraph that “lots of Wagner fighters went [to Libya], and there are rumours that military personnel also went there”,” the report said.
This was not the first time when mainstream media outlets, in particular British ones, claimed that Russia is expanding its presence in Libya by various measures. In October 2018, The Sun claimed that the Russian miltiary had established two military bases in Benghazi and Tobruk. The Sun also claimed that it can “reveal” that “dozens” of GRU officers as well as Spetznaz special forces were already on the ground in eastern Libya. They are presumably carrying out training and liaison roles. According to the same report, S-300 and Kalibr missiles were also deployed.
While the growing Russian influence, including the infuence of Russia-linked security companies, across the Greater Middle East is no secret, msot of mainstream coverage on this topic is a mix of exaggerations and fake news. The main goal of this coverage is to set up an image of an “evil Russia” meddling across the region to support “bad guys”.