Russia Dominated Syria’s War. Now It’s Sending Mercenaries to Libya.
In the past 6 weeks, Russia has sent around 200 troops to Libya as part of a broad effort to increase its influence in the Middle East and Africa, the New York Times reports. In Libya, the Kremlin has been supporting renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in his campaign to oust the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. Haftar launched his campaign in early April of this year, promising a swift victory that would bring stability to Libya for the first time since strongman Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011. However, the offensive stalled after a few weeks.
As part of its efforts to determine the outcome of the Libyan civil war, Russia is using Sukhoi jets, coordinated missile strikes, precision-guided artillery and snipers. According to interior minister of the Libyan government in Tripoli Fathi Bashagha, Russia’s campaign in Libya follows “exactly the same” strategy as the one that enabled it to shape Syria’s civil war. Even if Haftar does not prevail, it already seems inevitable that Russia will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the conflict.