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Russia plans to build a military base in Libya

Russia plans to build a military base in Libya Illustrative photo (photo: GettyImages)

Russia is planning to build a military base in Libya. This will allow Russia to spy on the entire European Union, according to Bloomberg.

Russia is planning to build a military-naval base in eastern Libya, which will allow it to establish a foothold on the southern border of Europe and monitor the entire European Union.

According to reports, Russia and the commander of the eastern forces in Libya, Khalifa Haftar, have been discussing a defense agreement. The negotiations began in September of this year when Haftar visited Moscow.

Sources familiar with the negotiations between Haftar and Putin suggest that Russia may obtain the right to permanently station its military ships in one of the Libyan ports, most likely in Tobruk.

Former U.S. Special Envoy to Libya, Jonathan Winer, has stated that the U.S. administration is taking the Russian threat very seriously. According to Winer, a base in Libya would give Russia a strategic advantage and the ability to spy on the entire European Union. Currently, Russia only has one naval base in Tartus, Syria.

Hidden presence of Russia in Libya

Russia has been clandestinely present in Libya for several years. The Wagner private military company (PMC) arrived in the country during the civil war that followed the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi with the support of NATO in 2011. The Russian Ministry of Defense took control of Wagner's activities following a mysterious plane crash in August, which killed the group's leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and his top aides.

Wagner PMC's activities in Africa and the Middle East have allowed Russia to rapidly expand its foreign military presence. Russia is also aiming to establish a military-naval base on the Red Sea in Sudan, which would provide it with permanent access to the Suez Canal, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Peninsula. However, the ongoing civil conflict in Sudan may pose challenges to the realization of these plans.

Libya is divided between two rival administrations: one in the capital, Tripoli, in the west, and the other in the east, led by Khalifa Haftar. Both sides oppose each other's foreign policies and decisions made by their rivals.

The 79-year-old Haftar controls many major oil facilities in Libya, one of Africa's largest oil producers. His supporters claim that he is seeking air defense systems to protect against competing forces in Tripoli, supported by Turkiye. They also say Haftar wants to train his own air force pilots and special forces. Meanwhile, Russia is upgrading several airbases currently occupied by the Wagner PMC to accommodate its troops.