Emerging reports from Western mainstream outlets are now provoking a flurry of accusations and denials from Western, Russian, and African states regarding the allegation that Russia has deployed Special Forces troops to Western Egypt in support of one of the Libyan factions vying for control of the country.
The initial reports came on March 14 from Reuters, citing diplomatic sources from both the U.S. and Egypt. These alleged officials are claiming that any Russian deployment is likely part of an attempt to support Khalif Haftar, the Libyan militia commander who was dealt a blow by an attack on March 3 by the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) on oil ports that his forces controlled.
Speaking on conditions of anonymity, the U.S. officials said the United States has observed what they believe to be Russian Special Forces and drones about 60 miles away from the Libyan side of the Egypt-Libya border, at Sidi Barrani.
Reuters also reported that its Egyptian sources provided more detail, stating that a 22 member Russian Special Forces unit had been deployed but the sources did not discuss the mission of the unit. They also said that Russia also used a base farther east in Marsa Matrouh in February.
An Egyptian Army spokesman, Tamer al-Rifai, denied that any Russian unit was on Egyptian soil.
“There is no foreign soldier from any foreign country on Egyptian soil. This is a matter of sovereignty,” he said.
The United States military declined to comment on the situation.
The Russian Defense ministry, however, strongly denied the allegations with the spokesman for the agency, Igor Konashenkov stating that “Certain western mass media have been stirring up the public for years with such false information from anonymous sources.”
Andrei Kasov, the First Deputy Head of the Defense Committee in the Lower House of the Russian Parliament, Aguila Saleh Issa, called the accusations “fake news.”
The Guardian quotes the Libyan President of the House of Representatives as having told RIA Novosti that the Russians were assisting Haftar in other ways. “We asked the Russian government to help us with training the soldiers in our armed forces and the repair of military equipment by Russian specialists because the majority of our officers studied in Russia and many speak the Russian language and know how to use Russian equipment. They promised to help us in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
These reports may be real as Russia has met with Haftar before and it has showed interest in aiding the Haftar faction in Libya. Indeed, Russia has also shown signs of interest in disrupting the plans of the Western powers in Libya. Oil, geopolitical positioning, and influence all play a role in any Russian decisions to become involved in North Africa.
However, the information reported by Reuters has yet to be independently verified and the Western corporate press is well known to peddle official State Department and Deep State narratives for political and geopolitical purposes. Thus, it may also be the “fake news” typical of Western mainstream outlets designed to gin up yet more hysteria and fear over Russia’s “expansionism” and “spread of empire across the globe” so erroneously claimed by Russophobes and warmongers in the mainstream media and pro-war left.
In this regard, only time will tell. (For more from the author of “On the Brink of World War: Russia Deploys Special Forces to Help Libyan Faction Take Control of Country” please click HERE)