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Russia sends its own signals on Libya by hosting Hifter

Russia's military embraces Khalifa Hifter ahead of intra-Libyan talks in Palermo that kick off today, but does it signal a shift in Moscow's attitude toward the Libyan crisis?

On  Nov. 7, the chief commander of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Hifter, who also represents the government in Tobruk, visited Moscow for a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The two discussed the present situation in Libya, the fight against terrorism and broader security in the Middle East and North Africa. Hifter also met with Valery Gerasimov, head of the general staff of the Russian army. This may indicate Moscow and Tobruk have either concluded certain agreements in the field of military cooperation or are discussing them. 

On an even more intriguing note, Evgeniy Progozhin — dubbed “Putin’s cook,” and notorious for his alleged ownership of the Wagner private military contractor — was also present at the negotiations. Moscow later explained his presence by saying he was responsible for “the catering of the meeting” but this nonetheless led to speculation over a possible deployment of Russian mercenaries in Libya.

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