Russia expressed regret over the lack of progress in the unification of Libya, attributing it to “conflicts of private and external interests and the ineffectiveness of international mediation”

Back and forth between the United States and Russia at the United Nations Security Council on Libya, while the position of UN envoy remains vacant. The first briefing at the UN Headquarters of the interim head of the United Nations Support Mission (UNSMIL) in Libya, the American Stephanie Khoury, saw a long-distance exchange of accusations between representatives of Moscow and Washington, respectively Anna Evstigneeva e Robert A. Wood.

The first accused the West and NATO of committing an “illegal attack” on Libya in 2011, triggering a chain reaction that has led to the “very tense and turbulent” situation now.

The US diplomat described the recent arrival of Russian military ships at the port of Tobruk as a “particularly worrying” episode. Meanwhile, for his part, Khoury outlined a first account of his two months as UN correspondent in place of the resigning Abdoulaye Bathily, explaining that Libyan politicians are – at least in words – in agreement on the need to go to elections, but not on how to vote.

Russia expressed regret over the lack of progress in Libya’s unification, attributing it to “conflicts of private and external interests and the ineffectiveness of international mediation.”

Evstigneeva – responsible for political affairs of the Russian permanent representation at the Glass Palace – declared that the international community and the United Nations must play a central role in the Libyan unification process, but that progress was prevented by external vested interests and will of local subjects to maintain the status quo and the partial collapse of the state.

To overcome this situation, Evstigneeva emphasized the importance of holding national elections and resolving controversial issues related to electoral legislation, hoping for an agreement between interested parties that is in everyone’s interest. Russia said legislative and presidential elections should be held simultaneously to ensure the success of the national reconciliation process, praising the African Union’s efforts to organize a conference on this issue.

The Russian representative expressed concern about the position of armed groups in western Libya, underlining the need to unify the Libyan armed authorities and include security forces in state bodies.

Evstigneeva warned that the continuation of the current state could encourage the activity of extremist and terrorist groups in the Sahel and Sahara region. The Russian representative also expressed concern about plans by external parties to create and supply militias on the border with Libya, arguing that such operations do not favor the unification of the armed forces, but only respond to national interests.

The Russian diplomat called for the cessation of the supply of destabilizing weapons and the end of the presence of mercenaries, a practice in force in Libya since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. Finally, she took note of the decision of the Sanctions Committee to lift the ban on trip imposed on some members of the family of Muammar Gaddafi.

US diplomat Wood has a completely different opinion, according to which the circulation of counterfeit Libyan dinars printed in Russia has increased turbulence in the markets and political divisions in the North African country, while the arrival of Russian ships supplying military equipment is ” particularly worrying.”

Wood praised the renewal of the arms embargo in Libya implemented by the European air and naval mission Irini, which plays a role considered “essential” to monitor the Libyan coasts and counter violations of the arms embargo. The US representative appreciated the work of the International Sanctions Committee expert group on Libya and expressed concern about Russian ships supplying military equipment to Libya.

The US representative also underlined the United States’ commitment to using sanctions to deter threats to peace and security in Libya. Wood praised the work of the Joint Military Committee “5+5” to protect the borders and reduce criminal acts in the south of the country.

In the economic sphere, Wood recalled that the United States imposed sanctions on the Russian company Goznak for printing the equivalent of a billion dollars in counterfeit Libyan currency, worsening Libya’s economic challenges.

Two military ships of the Russian Federation, escorted by two submarines, made an official stop in recent days at the naval base of Tobruk, in Cyrenaica, the eastern region of Libya.

The news was reported by the press office of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the general Khalifa Haftar. “In order to strengthen relations between the General Command of the Libyan National Army and the Russian Federation, a group of Russian warships, consisting of the missile cruiser Varyag and the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov, paid a three-day visit to the base naval base in Tobruk, after a visit to the Arab Republic of Egypt,” we read in an ENL statement published on Facebook together with some images of the Udaloy class frigate and part of the Russian Pacific Fleet, and of the Varyag cruiser.

“The visit is part of concrete steps to strengthen cooperation between Russia and Libya, restore long-standing friendly relations and take advantage of Russian expertise to strengthen the sovereignty and independence of the Libyan state and its armed forces,” adds the party Libyan. Rumors have been circulating for some time about Russia’s intention to open a naval base in the Cyrenaica city.

Furthermore, at least five significant weapons deliveries occurred in April, all made by the Russian Navy through the port of Tobruk. It is no coincidence that Libya’s representative to the United Nations, the ambassador Al Taher el Sonni, stated that external interference is the main cause of his country’s crisis.

The diplomat criticized the UN Security Council for failing to identify a single individual, organization or group responsible for hindering a comprehensive solution to the crisis in Libya. El Sonni declared that it is time for Libyans to decide their fate for themselves: “We are tired of stagnation and lessons on what we should do. We are tired of Libya being used by other countries. We decide our future ourselves.”

The diplomat stressed that “the time has come for Libyans to decide their fate without interference from the United Nations”, calling for the political process to be completed where it had been interrupted and for a new UN envoy to Libya to be appointed after Bathily’s resignation.

The ambassador highlighted the importance of bringing Libyan parties together, finding points of agreement and “developing an electoral road map and a specific electoral program based on shared electoral laws”, underlining that the Libyan people are suffering due to the current situation.

On the issue of security, the Libyan representative stated that “first of all, all foreign military forces must be removed from Libyan territory”, adding that it is essential to support the 5+5 Joint Military Committee to achieve this goal.

Today’s Libya is administered by two rival political-military coalitions: on the one hand the Prime Minister’s Government of National Unity based in Tripoli Abdulhamid Dabaiba, recognized by the international community and supported above all by Türkiye, a member of NATO; on the other, the so-called Government of National Stability led by Osama Hammad, prime minister designated by the House of Representatives, in effect a parallel executive based in Benghazi managed by General Haftar.

To break the political stalemate, former UN envoy Bathily launched, on February 27 last year, a plan to draft the constitutional amendments and electoral laws necessary to hold “free, inclusive and transparent” elections by 2023 However, this plan failed and Bathily resigned on April 16th.

Meanwhile, according to the French news website “Africa Intelligence”, three personalities from Algeria, Germany and Mauritania are vying for the position of new special envoy to Libya.

The German diplomat Christian Buck, director general for Political Affairs at the German Foreign Ministry and special envoy for Libya, is among the favorite candidates, although the political dynamics in the United Nations Security Council could limit his possibilities, especially after the nomination of the American Khoury as deputy UN special representative in the North African country.

Another name is that of Ramtane Lamamra, 72 years old, former Algerian Foreign Minister and current special representative of the UN secretary general in Sudan. Algeria, which has a non-permanent seat on the Security Council, has increased its influence within the United Nations, where it is represented by the ambassador Ammar Ben Jama, very active on the issue of the Gaza Strip. However, according to the French website, Lamamra did not maintain close relations with the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, since the head of state fired him and replaced him with Ahmad Attaf.

The third prominent candidate is Mauritanian Mohamed al Hassan Ould Labat, law professor who currently serves as Chief of Staff to the President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Fakih Mahamat. However, again according to “Africa Intelligence”, Ould Labat does not enjoy the support of the Mauritanian president, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, and would struggle to gain support within the United Nations or the African Union. He would therefore rely on the support of the Congolese president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, who chairs the African Union’s high-level committee on Libya which has close relations with the Libyan Presidential Council. Antonio Guterres, secretary general of the UN, has not yet given priority to the appointment of Bathily’s successor, while the American Khoury is acting as interim envoy (but with limited powers).


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