Skip to main content

Russia weighs its role as arbiter in Libya

As Moscow works to shore up its influence in bringing Libya’s rival governments together, it is examining whether Gen. Khalifa Hifter is more of an asset or a liability.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) welcomes General Khalifa Haftar (L), commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), during a meeting in Moscow, Russia August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin - RTS1BPNE

After being absent from the divided Libyan political landscape for months, Moscow again made headlines by hosting Gen. Khalifa Hifter for a three-day visit earlier this month, meeting with the foreign and defense ministers, his usual Russian interlocutors. Once again, the general’s visit had experts debating exactly what role Russia plays in mentoring Hifter and whether Russia really sees him as its “point-man” in Libya.

The focus of Hifter’s visit resembled that of his previous trips to the Russian capital, touching on the security situation in Libya. The general reiterated his request for Russian military aid to his Libyan National Army, despite countless previous rejections. His request remains unfulfilled. Speaking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Hifter expressed the hope that Russia would become involved in the process of national reconciliation in Libya. All in all, it would have been a routine visit, absent any remarkable developments, had it not been for the context in which the trip took place.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.