Turkey takes the control over Libya, but how will Putin respond?

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This post was published by Kumran Gasanov in VM.RU. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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MOSCOW, (BM) – The Libyan war is perhaps the only conflict that did not cool down during the pandemic. The fighting did not stop for a minute. Moreover, in a couple of weeks the alignment of forces has changed no less than in the whole previous year.

COMMENT: There are about 25 billion reasons for Turkish interest in Libya

Forces loyal to the UN-led Government of National Accord (GNA), expelled the Libyan National Army (LNA) from the suburbs of Tripoli and knocked it out of Al-Vatiy airbase. The reason for the advantage in favor of the PNS was the help from Turkey. At the end of 2019, Ankara agreed with the head of the GNA, Faiz Saraj, to send the Turkish military and equipment to the Libyan capital. Sent drones performed well in battles with the LNA Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Recent battles not only turned his dream into a mirage by force to seize the capital and unite Libya under their rule, but also put the allies in an uncomfortable position. Supporters of the GNA took trophies from the LNA. The web has photos of Russian systems “Pantsir-S1”, built on emirate money. The New York Times called it “a symbol of the humiliation of the two most influential foreign patrons of Mr. Haftar,” that is, Russia and the UAE. A few days later, the media reported that the Wagner GNA, fighting for the LNA, had withdrawn its fighters from the front line. In this, experts discerned Russia’s attempt to influence the irreconcilable field marshal, who had hitherto refused to negotiate with Saraj, and the political resolution of the conflict.

Now many Western media write that Turkey has become the main player in Libya. Other countries do not risk not only openly sending troops to support Haftar, but even putting weapons at him without running into the arms embargo of the UN Security Council. Ankara, on the other hand, received official permission from Tripoli and operates in the country of Maghreb with an open visor. As a result, pro-Turkish forces begin to win one victory after another.

COMMENT: Libya: The next NATO crisis

Unlike Syria, there are a lot of questions to Russia’s position in Libya. Officially, Moscow maintains ties with both the GNA and the LNA. However, experts are convinced that for the most part the sympathies of the Kremlin are on the side of Haftar, although they are carefully hidden. If these experts are right and Moscow really put it on Haftar, it turns out that, together with the LNA and its allies from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Russia is also defeated.

In my opinion, Moscow is now facing a dilemma. On the one hand, Russia is trying to prevent a violent outcome of the conflict, and it is no coincidence that Lavrov rejected Haftar’s claim to power in all of Libya. On the other hand, to allow Turkey not only to squeeze out the LNA in the West, but Russia cannot go on a decisive offensive. Apparently, therefore, repainted Russian MiG-29 and Su-35 fighters, as well as Su-24 bombers, flew from Syria to Libya. They are designed to stop the air supremacy of Turkish drones.

Now Saraj’s forces, smelling blood, may not stop on the defense of the western borders and go on a decisive attack. The Turks will accompany their attacks. If Russian military aircraft enter the battle and Turkey suffers losses, this could provoke Erdogan to increase military support. It is possible that in the Libyan sky will appear not only drones “Bayraktara”, but also F-16. Will Moscow be able to maintain self-control and still cover up its support for Haftar, say, if the PNS forces march eastward?

COMMENT: Why Russia did not support the resolution on Libya?

Therefore, at present, the political solution to the conflict in Libya has become even more relevant. If Russia and Turkey cannot persuade their allies on earth to abandon the “all power to the Soviets” strategy, the flywheel of war will only spin up. Ankara and Moscow will not have time to blink an eye, as they will become opponents in yet another theater of military operations in the Middle East.

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