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LNA Denies Haftar Seeking to Allow Russia to Set up Military Base in Libya

An informed source in the Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Haftar, denied to Asharq Al-Awsat that the military was planning on reaching an agreement with Russia to allow it to set up a military base in the country.

Bloomberg had reported that Russia was seeking to strike a defense agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Haftar when the latter visited Moscow in September.

It quoted sources as saying that Haftar “was looking for air-defense systems to protect him against rival forces in Tripoli, who have been backed by Türkiye’s military.”

“He also wants training for his air force pilots and special forces,” they said. “In return, a handful of air bases currently occupied by Wagner paramilitaries will be upgraded to host Russian forces.”

“Russian warships may also get permanent docking rights at a Libyan port, most likely Tobruk, located just a few hundred kilometers across the Mediterranean from Greece and Italy, according to other people with knowledge of the talks,” reported Bloomberg.

A week before his talks with Putin, Haftar met with commander of US forces in Africa General Michael Langley and current US special envoy to Libya Richard Norland. They pressed him to remove foreign forces from Libya.

A military source close to Haftar told Asharq Al-Awsat that the army was “playing its role in protecting Libya from foreign occupation.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, it stressed that the military cooperation agreements with Russia don’t include granting it any facilitations to set up military bases.

“Such misleading reports are aimed at diverting attention from foreign military presence in the country,” it added, referring to Turkish and American forces at the Mitiga base in Tripoli and in the al-Watiya base, as well as Italian and British forces at the Misrata air base.

Haftar did not comment on the reports during his meeting on Monday with a delegation of elders and tribal leaders at his headquarters in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Source: Asharq Al-Awsat