Russia has stepped up its military presence in the Mediterranean by showing off its military support for the eastern forces of the rogue General, Khalifa Haftar, thus kicking the door open and entering Libya’s conflict by arms deals signed with Haftar in a crystal clear challenge to the western powers, according to a report by the UK’s The Times.
According to the report, Haftar discussed the arms deal with high profile Russian officials onboard the Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, including the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu.
“In the past seven months, he has also met the Russian foreign and defence ministers to seek support and weapons.” The Times reported on Monday.
It also indicated that one of Haftar’s aides, Akram Abu Haliga, disclosed that Haftar told the Russian officials that his forces in the east are in need for more assistance from Moscow.
“Russia sees Libya as a strategic country that it could use to secure its grip on the Mediterranean, after having a base in Syria.” Abu Haliga was cited by the Times as saying.
“Libya’s security is an essential matter to Moscow.” He added.
The chief researcher at Dialogue of Civilizations Institute, a think-tank with close ties to the Russian leadership, Alexei Malashenko, was reported by Reuters on Tuesday as saying that Russia sees Libya as a way to anchor its return to the Middle East.
"One single Syria is not enough. That is why we need one more state for the Russian presence not only in Syria but also generally in the Middle East. Libya is a convenient territory for it. It is complete chaos and you can always say that Russia helps to fight terrorism." Reuters quoted Alexei Malashenko as saying.