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UPDATE: Russian ambassador sees Serraj in Tripoli

The prospect of improved links with Russia were aired today at a meeting in Tripoli between Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj and Russia’s ambassador to Libya, Ivan Molotkov.

Officially, Moscow is still sticking to the view that it will not formally recognise the Government of National Accord headed by Serraj until it is approved by the House of representatives, although it voted for the Libyan Political Agreement at the UN security council in December and has said that it recognises the Presidency Council.

In today’s talks at the the Council’s headquarters at the Bu Setta naval base, however, Molotkov took a much more positive stance, telling Serraj that Russia looked forward to re-activating the numerous cooperation agreements between the two countries and the return of Russian companies to Libya. He also expressed Moscow’s desire to reopen its embassy in Tripoli as soon as possible, according to a Presidency Council statement.

Molotkov flew into Tripoli from Tunis to which the Russian mission, along with most other major embassies, has been relocated since the summer of 2014.

For his part, Serraj voiced his appreciation for Russian support for Libya, thanking it for voting for the LPA and for its support at the Vienna conference earlier in May.

Calling on Russia to help lift the arms embargo and the freezing of Libya assets abroad, he also proposed closer security relations with Moscow. Libya, he said, was looking to Russia to provide security training and to upgrade military equipment.

Most of Libya’s military hardware and weaponry is Russian-made.

Russia has already been quietly working to reestablish a role in Libya. It agreed to print LD 4-billion worth of banknotes for the parallel Central Bank of Libya based in Beida, which are being distributed to banks today.

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