On May 26th, the US African Command (AFRICOM) released a statement claiming that Russia deployed military fighter jets to Libya in order to assist Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the fight against the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey.
These, of course, relate to the so-called “Wagner” group.
“Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya. Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups like Wagner,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now. We watched as Russia flew fourth generation jet fighters to Libya — every step of the way. Neither the LNA nor private military companies can arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support — support they are getting from Russia.”
AFRICOM further says that Russia’s actions have prolonged the conflict in Libya, and that was Moscow’s initial objective, either way.
“The world heard Mr. Haftar declare he was about to unleash a new air campaign. That will be Russian mercenary pilots flying Russian-supplied aircraft to bomb Libyans,” Townsend said.
“If Russia seizes basing on Libya’s coast, the next logical step is they deploy permanent long-range anti-access area denial (A2AD) capabilities,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa. “If that day comes, it will create very real security concerns on Europe’s southern flank.”
The US claimed that Russia’s actions in Libya will also exacerbate the regional instability that has driven the migration crisis affecting Europe.
The interesting fact is that the US miltiary insists that Russia-linked private military contractors that operate in Libya are “state-funded”. In fact, these claims are mostly untrue. The diplomatic and military posture of Moscow already demonstrated that it prefers to avoid a direct involvement in the conflict as the state. At the same time, private military contractors that support the Haftar’s forces represent interests of a part of the Russian elites.
Nonetheless, the supplies of fighter jets to Hafar forces demonstrate that the Russian influence in the region will continue to grow and further despite its focus on ‘indirect actions’.
Essentially, according to Washington, Russia is to blame for everything, the migrant crisis, the situation in Libya, but also that in Idlib, Syria. Turkey, which is currently effectively blackmailing Europe with the migrants sitting near Greece’s border appears to have avoided any blame.
The US as well as other key global and regional powers involved in the conflict in Libya is pursuing its own goals. However, once again, it somehow appeared that Washington once stands on the side of forces linked with various radical groups, including al-Qaeda.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- GNA Announces Operations Against Haftar’s Forces Halted For 2 Days Suggesting Behind-The-Scenes Diplomacy
- Turkey Dives Into Libyan Conflict