A commander of the armed forces loyal to the elected and internationally backed government of Libya, Khalifa Haftar, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin and Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu to supply weapons and conduct military operations in Libya, as reported on Wednesday, 28 September, by Izvestia, referring to a source close to diplomatic circles.
The request was brought to Moscow via a special envoy sent by Libya's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdel Basset al-Badri. According to the publication, during his meeting with the representatives of the Russian President on the Middle East, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Bogdanov, they discussed the issue of lifting the embargo and supplying small arms and military equipment, including aircraft, to Libya.
Moreover, according to Izvestia, Libya called on Russia to start military operations against Islamists, similar to those being carried out in Syria.
After the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011 and the beginning of the civil war, two governments were operating in the country until February 2016; the democratically elected one which is recognized by the world community, based in Tobruk, and the Islamist one, based in Tripoli. On 17 December 2015, through UN mediation, the parties signed an agreement to establish a nationally unified government, the members of which were announced on 15 February.
At the same time, Haftar’s forces, who are loyal to the Parliament elected in 2014 and who are in conflict with the National Transitional Council, refused to support the newly-created government.
A ban on the supply of arms to either of the parties to the conflict in Libya was imposed in 2011 in the midst of the uprising against the leader of the country, Muammar Gaddafi.
The operation in Syria is being carried out under an agreement on the deployment of Russia’s aviation group in Syria signed on 26 August 2015 between Moscow and Damascus.
On 30 September 2015, the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad submitted an official request to Russia regarding the provision of military assistance.
On the same day, the Federal Council gave its approval to the Russian President to use aviation forces in the Syrian Arab Republic.