Russia’s deeper involvement in Libya changes the game in the Middle East

A map showing the areas in Libya controlled by various factions
The Tobruk-based government controls much of eastern Libya, including the border with Egypt, where it is battling jihadist forces (source: macpixxel for GIS)
  • Vladimir Putin sees the chaos created by the Libyan civil war as an opportunity
  • He is using the vacuum left by Western powers to bolster Russia’s position there
  • This will give Russia another foothold in the Mediterranean and Middle East

Have Western powers been caught napping again? They have belatedly begun tracking Russia’s footprints in Libya, a country in turmoil since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in 2011. Now securely entrenched in Syria and strengthening its ties with Egypt, Russia is turning its attention to the Eastern Mediterranean. World media is abuzz following a Reuters report from mid-March that a unit of 22 elite Russian soldiers equipped with drones had been seen at Sidi Barrani, about 100 kilometers from the Egypt-Libya border. Quoting Egyptian sources, the report added that Russian military aircraft had flown about six military units to Marsa Matrouh before continuing to Libya about 10 days later.

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