In a move that illustrates new levels of boldness, Russian fighters have seized one of the largest oil fields in Libya. The Es Sider oil field was one of the main economic pipelines for the Government of National Accord. Over the last seven months, the Libyan National Army (LNA) has held a stranglehold on oil exports.
The LNA, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, has struggled militarily as of late, suffering defeat after defeat since June. Now the LNA is looking to negotiate using the oil fields for leverage, effectively keeping the economy hostage. Libyan oil exports have been reduced to around a tenth of their original production.
Over the last month, Haftar’s allies have taken further steps to save their investment from failure. Egypt’s parliament approved the deployment of troops into eastern Libya, making Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s threat of violence all the more real. Egypt’s involvement is political; it holds a deep resentment toward the GNA’s Muslim Brotherhood roots.
Russia, on the other hand, is looking for influence and oil. Russia’s increasing involvement in Libya complicates a wide variety of conflicts. Turkey is the primary backer of the GNA. Russia sells arms to Turkey and is already supporting the Syrian government, which has regularly been at odds with Turkey over Northern Syria. Russia’s support of the LNA puts them in direct conflict with Turkey on another front.
While this move benefits Haftar and the LNA, Russia is protecting itself. Securing the oil fields ensures that Russia can push for access no matter who wins the civil war.
The United States is well aware of these actions, moving to sanction the group responsible for the seizure. The Wagner Group is responsible for taking over the Es Sider oil field and port, and reports indicate it has set up camp to monitor its new asset. The Kremlin has not taken credit or commented on these actions thus far. Source link…