The Russian military has allegedly moved special forces units to an airbase in Egypt, close to the border of Libya. The move was first first revealed by U.S. and Egyptian diplomatic sources, who are concerned about the increasing role that Russia is playing in the ongoing Libyan conflict.
Reuters first broke the story exclusively Tuesday evening. The deployment is allegedly a move to support one of the major Libyan military commanders, Khalifa Haftar. The commander suffered a big loss at the hands of the Benghazi Defence Brigade, when oil ports controlled by his forces were attacked.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States has observed what appeared to be Russian special operations forces and drones at Sidi Barrani, about 60 miles (100 km) from the Egypt-Libya border.
Egyptian security sources offered more detail, describing a 22-member Russian special forces unit, but declined to discuss its mission. They added that Russia also used another Egyptian base farther east in Marsa Matrouh in early February.
The apparent Russian deployments have not been previously reported.
Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately provide comment on the story, and Egypt denied the claims of any Russian troops on their soil. The U.S. military also declined to comment.
One of the issues that Reuters made note of is the fact that Russian contractors often do not use military uniforms when conducting operations. This was one of the major issues during the height of the Crimea invasion, where the Russian troops did not have any markings designating their allegiance in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Is Russia trying to expand its sphere of influence into North Africa now? There certainly is a vacant slot open, thanks to Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya that ousted Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Libya is now one of the most dangerous places in the world, and can be classified as a failed state.
Hence, the opening for Russia to potentially come in and expand their influence in places off the Asian continent.