Khalifa Haftar and Russia are linked together in dubious off-the-books relations in the oil sector in Libya, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The report said in last October, dozens of armed Russian mercenaries fanned out across two Libyan oil ports, adding that they were brought by Khalifa Haftar in order to help his rebel forces wrest control of the oil-rich region from the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).
It added that after the fighting ended, a delegation of mining and oil executives from former Soviet states arrived seeking business with Haftar’s forces who controlled the ports, according to Libyan immigration records.
“The Libya foray could give Russia a foothold in a failed state that is a significant energy exporter and a main route for illegal trafficking in people, drugs and weapons to Europe. European officials are concerned about the precarious state of Libyan security, in part because regions to its south are war zones and terrorist breeding grounds.” The report indicated.
It indicated that in the middle of last year, Haftar’s militias brought Russian military contractors into two ports to train commandos and launch strikes, according to Libyan oil and security officials.
According to the report, in December, Haftar’s militias allowed a group of Russian and Belarusian businessmen to visit Haftar’s eastern stronghold of Benghazi, according to an arrivals list at the city’s airport.
“The visitors included a Russian fuel-trading executive and managers at a Russian contractor specializing in mining and gas projects for state companies.” The Wall Street Journal added.