Skip to main content

Russia to reopen embassy in Libya

For years Russia supported the eastern-based military forces in Libya, but now Moscow is working with the Tripoli government to reopen its embassy there.

TUNIA — Russia is set to reopen its embassy in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Monday. The embassy has been closed for over nine years due to the deteriorating security situation in the North African country.

A Libyan diplomatic source, speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, said, “Russia is currently making arrangements in coordination with the Government of National Unity headed by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah to reopen the embassy. The embassy staff would first start working from a hotel until a safe space is found to establish the new embassy headquarters, amid the recurrent clashes between militias in the capital.”

Russia was one of the first countries to recognize the rival government headed by Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed by the eastern-based parliament in February. 

Moscow seems to be reconsidering its policy toward Libya after Bashagha made several failed attempts to take the capital and Dbeibah refuses to hand over power.

Fathi al-Baja, a former Libyan diplomat, told Al-Monitor that Russia's shift in Libya should be understood within the current international context including the war in Ukraine. He added, “Russia’s efforts to reopen its embassy in Tripoli may also be part of a deal between Dbeibah and Moscow so that he [Dbeibah] can pressure Western powers to accept his remaining in power.”

Baja noted, “Russia is trying to send the United States a message that it can act in Washington's areas of influence, and this is a game that Moscow is good at.”

The Russian moves coincide with the appointment of Mohamed Maghrawi as Libya's ambassador to Moscow.

Throughout the Libyan conflict, Russia has backed the self-styled Libyan National Army led by eastern military commander Khalifa Hifter against forces loyal to the successive governments based in Tripoli. Moscow also sent thousands of mercenaries to fight in Libya through the Russian private military contractor the Wagner Group

However, amid rumors that Moscow will soon withdraw its mercenaries from Libya, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Italian Mediaset in May that the Wagner Group is present in Libya on a “commercial basis” and “has nothing to do with the Russian state.”

Libyan political analyst Mohammed Mahfouz told Al-Monitor, “The recent Russian shift in Libya indicates that it may take some actual steps in the coming days. Leaks about Russia withdrawing Wagner mercenaries from southeastern Libya might turn out to be true since it wants to turn its military and logistical role into a diplomatic one.”

Mahfouz said that the Russian move came after Turkey normalized its relations with eastern Libya, explaining, "It is well known that Turkish actions come in full agreement with the US, which could thus lead to a significant reduction of Russia’s influence in Libya because Ankara is making strong progress, be it logistically, militarily, financially and diplomatically.”

However, the Libyan diplomatic source stressed that Russia still refuses to withdraw its mercenaries, saying, “Russia is keeping the mercenaries as a guarantee for it in its negotiations with Western powers, as these mercenaries control some oil fields in Libya.”

Turkey also has mercenaries and military forces in Libya but is unlikely to risk any military action against the Russian mercenaries, which may undermine its coordination with Moscow in several other areas, such as Syria.

The 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission, which is made up of five senior military officers from the Tripoli-based government and five appointed by Hifter, called in January 2021 for the withdrawal of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from the country. But this move remains unlikely as long as Russia and Turkey refuse to implement it.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Security Briefing Security Briefing

Security Briefing

Middle East defense and security in your inbox

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial