Russia has not flown any fighter jets to aid Haftar forces in Libya, a senior Russian lawmaker has said.
Earlier, the US Africa command (AFRICOM) had asserted that 14 Russian fighter aircraft arrived in Libya from an air base in Russia after transiting Syria, where AFRICOM officials assess they were repainted to camouflage their Russian origin.
An image accompanying the Pentagon press release showed a blurry picture of what it claimed was a Russian jet camouflaged to hide its origins. Stuttgart-based AFRICOM did not specify when the jets flew in, saying only that it was "recently.”
“Russia has not sent military personnel to Libya and the Russian upper house of parliament has not received a request to approve such a dispatch,” Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy head of the upper house's international affairs committee, was quoted as saying by Interfax on May 27.
While the Russian defense ministry said it would “not comment right now,” Andrei Krasov, a member of the defense committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, dismissed AFRICOM’s allegation as "fake" news.
''Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya. Just like I saw them doing in Syria, they are expanding their military footprint in Africa using government-supported mercenary groups like Wagner,'' said Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, AFRICOM's commander.
Last month, United Nations experts said 800-1200 Wagner mercenaries were in Libya to back Haftar.
''For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Well, there is no denying it now. We watched as Russia flew fourth-generation jet fighters to Libya — every step of the way. Neither the LNA nor private military companies can arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support — support they are getting from Russia,” Townsend asserted.