Libya could become an apple of discord between Russia and Turkey
Libyan National Army or General Khalifa Haftar’s forces have been reinforced by a new Russian military contingent in Libya
The difficult relations between Moscow and Ankara have already become a byword. Their sinusoid ranges from alliance to armed confrontation. A recent statement by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Ankara is ready to send troops to Libya if Tripoli (Government of National Accord, Government of National Accord – GNA) formally asks for it.
Libyan National Army or General Khalifa Haftar’s forces have been reinforced by a new Russian military contingent in Libya, according the US State Department statement. This step may be problematic for Turkey, which is providing military assistance to Tripoli.
Washington claims that Russian mercenaries from the so-called Wagner group have been supporting Haftar for some time, but Moscow is currently deploying its regular troops in Libya. True, the Americans, reporting such information, make a reservation that the size and total number of the Russian military presence in Libya is currently unknown to them. That is, it is not worth relying on the integrity of these data, or? ..
“The Russian military personnel (arriving in Libya. – NVO”) in significant numbers to support the LNA, “said David Schenker, Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs at the US Department of State, on November 26. In early November, the New York Times wrote that Russia sent “Sukhoi planes, missiles, and sniper groups” to Haftar. In turn, Turkey assisted Tripoli in repelling the LNA offensive last year, as well as being seen in the supply of the GNA army of shock drones and armored vehicles.
Alternative sources of information provide conflicting information. The effect of the involvement of both Russian regular troops and Russian mercenaries is significant, said Yusuf Eltaguri, an analyst and researcher at the Institute of Foreign Policy. That is, it hints at the significance of their numbers. But he immediately makes a reservation: “Although the influence of the Russian ground forces did not transfer to the rapid advance of the LNA troops, it significantly strengthened the front line.”
Arno Delaland, an independent defense and security expert who has closely monitored the Libyan conflict, is more restrained in his assessments. “There are probably several hundred Russian mercenaries belonging to the Wagner group, but their number is less than, according to some sources,” he said. By the way, Delaland refutes the New York Times, according to him, in Libya, not one of the new aircraft of the Sukhoi family was seen. “The LNA Air Force has only the old Su-22s in its fleet, but they also ended up in repair hangars for months because of super-intensive use at the front,” the expert said. According to the same expert, one of them already regularly flies over Libya after being recently renovated.
Both Delaland and Eltaguri believe that Turkey will send more military equipment to Tripoli in the near future. Eltaguri believes that “a situation is more likely to develop in which the strengthening of LNA support from Russia continues without any international interference,” Turkey will strengthen its support for GNA in this case. How this epic will end is difficult to predict.