Ukraine’s defense ministry claimed that the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar will send mercenaries to Russia to assist the Russian Army in its ‘special military operation’ in Kyiv.
In a statement, the ministry said Russia’s paramilitary organization Wagner Group will organize the flights of the Libyan fighters on Russian warplanes. The group is claimed to be a de facto private army of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine alleged Haftar visited Moscow recently and agreed to send Libyan ‘volunteers’ to Ukraine to side with Russia. According to the United Nations (UN) statistics, the number of foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya is estimated at more than 20,000.
Haftar’s Relations with the Kremlin
Libyan government was established by the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in 2015, under UN-led political deal following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Ever since then, it has been under attack by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar.
While the GNA enjoys support from Turkey and Qatar; LNA is backed by Egypt, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Russia and Saudi Arabia. About half of the LNA consists of militias including Madkhali (Salafist) militias and Sudanese, Chadian and Russian mercenaries.
In few press articles, Haftar has also been referred to as the “Moscow’s man.”