Libya: Russia’s Next Front

Since 2015, Russia has provided military, diplomatic, and financial support to Libya’s eastern-based government in Tobruk and the LNA in its war against the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Since 2017, Russian support has centered on training, equipping, and advising the LNA and its commander, General Khalifa Haftar, for its push into central and western Libya, alongside Haftar’s other backers, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. At the vanguard of Russian military efforts has been the Wagner Group, which by 2018 had deployed several hundred mercenaries to multiple training sites, airfields, forward bases, and key energy and infrastructure sites, thus supporting the LNA as well as securing Russian interests. Russian PMC activity surged in the summer of 2019 to bolster Haftar’s flagging western Libya campaign and enable an LNA offensive against Tripoli. By early 2020, up to 1,200 Wagner mercenaries were on the ground in Libya, to then be supported from the air with the arrival of Russian combat aircraft

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