Russia says that the head of Libya’s armed forces appointed by the House of Representatives (HoR), Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter, must be part of the political settlement along with all other political forces. But it will not provide him with arms.
The insistence that Hafter be included in the political process was made clear at the Mediterranean Dialogues conference in Rome this week by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
However, a Russian official told the Libya Herald that while Moscow had political and economic interests in Libya “but not military interests” and would not provide Hafter or anyone with weapons. .
Hafter was in Moscow last week for talks with Lavrov and Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu at which military support for Hafter’s forces was said to have been discussed. However, according to the Russian official, Moscow will not supply arms to the Libyan National Army.
“We could not do it without a vote [on the arms embargo] by the Security Council”, he said, adding that it was not going to remove it.
Russia would also maintain a balanced policy towards the country, he said, explaining that after Lavrov’s meeting with Hafter, the Russian foreign minister had phoned Presidency Council member Ahmed Maetig for similar talks on the situation in Libya.
This was a repeat of the situation last June when after Hafter’s visit then, Maetig was invited to Moscow for talks.
Lavrov himself said in Rome that Russia was in touch with all Libyan parties including HoR president Ageela Saleh and Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj.
Russian policy is that while it supports the Libyan Political Agreement and consequently the Presidency Council, it will not recognise any government of national accord until it has been approved by the HoR.