NYT: the US accuses Russia of sending military aircraft to Libya

NYT: США обвиняют РФ в отправке военных самолетов в Ливию

The U.S. military has accused Russia that it last week secretly sent at least 14 fighters in Libya.

The goal is to support the Russian mercenaries fighting with the besieged commander during his campaign aimed at the expulsion of the government from Tripoli, the capital of the country. Deploy fighters, apparently, confirms the growing role of the Kremlin in the expanded proxy war in which its Lebanese ally, the commander of Khalifa Haftar last week suffered some serious losses, which caused a severe blow to his campaign, writes The New York Times.

“Combat aircraft were repainted on the basis of Syria on the way to Libya to disguise their Russian origin, the statement said the Africa command of the US armed forces, accompanied by 15 photos, including satellite images showing the planes in the air and at the air base in Libya.”

“For too long Russia has denied the full extent of his involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict, the General said Steven Townsend, the head of Africa command of the US armed forces. – Well, now it can’t be denied”.

“Unusually blunt and public criticism from senior U.S. commander points to the broader concerns of the Pentagon about the growing influence of Moscow in Libya, says the newspaper. – Until now, Russia has been flexing its muscles in Libya through the group of Wagner, the Kremlin-backed private military company, mercenaries which provided considerable support for the occurrence of the Haftarot on Tripoli last fall, at a time when his own strength to slip”.

“But last week, Turkey, which intervened in January on the side of the UN-supported government in Tripoli, broke the advance of the Haftarot, having won a series of victories. Turkish drones bombarded supply lines of the Haftarah and allowed the government men to capture a strategic air base West of Tripoli” – the newspaper writes, reminding that over the weekend the Libyan social networks were filled with footage depicting the retreat of Russian mercenaries, reportedly working for the group of Wagner, on the front lines of South of Tripoli. “After spending the night in the town of Bani Walid, they were taken to the airbase, “al-Dzhufra” located deep in the Haftarot-controlled Eastern Libya, which also landed a squadron of Russian aircraft,” says The New York Times.

“Still allies of the Haftarot (the publication includes among them the UAE, Egypt and Russia) operated at a uniform distance from the fighting with money, weapons and mercenaries. Analysts believe that the emergence of Russian aircraft in Libya may have serious consequences. “Russian air power can not only change the military balance in Libya itself, but it may be the first step in a gradual escalation that will eventually become a permanent Russian military deployment in the country,” says Michael Kaufman, Director of the Russia program at the Center for naval analysis.

The publication stresses that the defense Committee in the state Duma rejected the US charges as false, reported the Russian news Agency “Interfax”.

“According to the Western diplomat working in Libya, this deployment seems to be the trick to force Turkey to slow down the attack on the Haftarot. The threat of retaliation – the diplomat called it a “gun on the table” – can help to ensure the safe withdrawal of the Russian soldiers, as the forces of the Haftarot regroup, he said. Last weekend was obtained indirect evidence from the battlefield in support of this point of view. Russian mercenaries were able to retreat from the front lines in Tripoli, attacked supply Turkey with drones, which is a hint of an informal agreement between Ankara and Moscow. Maneuvers of Russia and Turkey, and an unusual statement of the Pentagon to a greater extent than ever, reflect the fact that the conflict in oil-rich Libya has become a proxy war – mediation of the war waged by foreign sponsors, fighting for resources, access to oil or benefits in the wider context of geostrategic competition”, – stated in the publication.

“The presence of armed forces of both countries opens the possibility of open conflict. Still Turkish and Russian leaders, apparently, have considered Libya as a place for division of spoils, and not to engage in an open war.”

“Putin gives Libya the opportunity to expand its presence in the middle East, fueling the Americans fear that it may become a permanent military presence near the southern flank of Europe”, – concludes the newspaper.