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What game is Russia playing in Libya?

Russia appears headed toward greater involvement in Libya, a development that could have catastrophic consequences for Libya and the region.
General Khalifa Haftar (C), commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), leaves after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov - RTSTRVG

The Russian military hosted Khalifa Hifter, the general loyal to the eastern Libyan government, onboard the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on Jan. 11. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Hifter was given a tour of the aircraft carrier before holding a videoconference with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss ways in which Russia can help with counterterrorism. Later, Hifter reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding to supply the Libyan National Army (LNA) with first-aid kits and essential medical supplies.

The Russian carrier was on its way from Syrian waters to its homeport in Russia when it stopped off the Libyan coast in Moscow's latest move signaling its support for the LNA and its commander and the broader Libyan coalition largely opposed to the internationally recognized, UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). Agilah Saleh, president of the House of Representatives in Tobruk and the coalition's political and nominal leader, visited Moscow Dec. 13 and met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other officials. Saleh and Lavrov discussed the Libyan Political Dialogue process, implementation of the LPA, the Libyan economy, security and counterterrorism.

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