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Russia indicates it might take anti-IS action in Libya

Russia — worried about the Islamic State — indicates that if the UN approves a naval blockade against Islamist militants in Libya, the Russian navy could participate.
A man fishes in front of the Russian Navy Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier moored off the coast of the town of Limassol, in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on February 27, 2014. AFP PHOTO / YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU        (Photo credit should read Yiannis Kourtoglou/AFP/Getty Images)
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Could Russia participate in a naval blockade to prevent arms shipments to anti-government fighters in Libya? Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told Russia’s official news agency Tass, “I would not rule this out.” About a week later, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt “would welcome contributions of any country that has abilities to provide such contributions,” adding that “Russia plays an important role in this issue since it has a naval fleet in the Mediterranean.”

For the moment, it's premature to ask about Russia’s potential participation in a blockade — the idea assumes a UN Security Council decision to permit arms shipments to Libya’s government despite an existing international arms embargo. The blockade would prevent arms shipments to Islamic State (IS) and other militants in Libya while allowing deliveries to the internationally recognized government in the country’s east. On March 9, the Security Council put off approving the Libyan government’s request for weapons after Spain and several other nations (including the United States) asked for more information about the plan.

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