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What does Russia pursue in Libya?

According to a statement published on Facebook by the media centre of the Volcano of Anger Operation, several movements of Wagner mercenaries have been monitored during the last hours, including trucks carrying excavators heading to the Thalatheen region west of Sirte.

The Libyan army reported on Wednesday that it had monitored movements by the Russian Wagner mercenaries west of the city of Sirte, and considers they “contradict and violate the Joint Military Committee (JMC) agreement on the ceasefire signed in Geneva at the end of last October under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).”

Two Wagner mercenary convoys were observed on the move – the first on the road from the oil-producing city of Brega to Sirte, consisting of eight armed vehicles, four transport vehicles loaded with ammunition and a mobile operations room for controlling drones.

The second envoy, consisting of three buses, two transport vehicles loaded with ammunition and three armed cars for protection, was observed exiting the city of Ajdabiya to the west.

As the Libyan army explained, “the Wagner mercenaries are carrying out activities believed to be related to laying a pipeline in a trench to transport oil from the south to the north and from there to ship it by sea… in a dangerous precedent committed by foreign mercenaries to control Libyan oil and seize the country’s wealth.”

This comes after Jan Kubis, head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), on Monday called on all parties to commit to the ceasefire agreement.

According to Abdulkader Assad, a Libyan journalist who writes for the Libya Observer and Libya Al Ahrar TV, the mercenaries of the Russian Wagner group are primarily representatives of the Kremlin, and their support for Haftar’s militias has led to aggression in Tripoli.

Russia’s tricky position on Libya. Primarily, Moscow overtly supported UN mediation efforts headed by Special Envoy Ghassan Salame, but on the other hand, the country overruled a UN Security Council statement calling on Haftar to stop the offensive on Tripoli and the UN-backed government.

Commenting on the Russian purposes in Libya, Assad said: “For a mercenary group like the Russian Wagner Group, the endgame is almost exclusively the same in every country and here we say Libya. The aim is coercing official authorities to grant Moscow its interests in the country and while those interests could very well be rejected by the Libyan government. “

Earlier several reports stated that Russia is seeking to conclude oil and construction deals in Libya, which “has the largest oil reserves and the fourth largest natural gas reserves on the continent.”

Since signing the ceasefire agreement between the two parties to the conflict in Libya, on 23 October, 2020, Haftar’s militia has breached the agreement several times.

In recent months, Russia and the UAE have increased their supply of mercenaries and weapons. Now Haftar’s forces will consist also combat-ready foreign mercenaries, which includes Syrian regime militias, former Daesh terrorists and criminals. 

The previous reports also suggest that the UAE, Russia and France are working in tandem to complicate the Libyan conflict and jeopardise all the work of the international community towards peacebuilding in the war-torn nation.

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