Possible motives for K. Haftar’s visit to Russia

September 12, 2019
Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on August 14, 2017 - Sergei Savostyanov (TASS)

This is part of a tranche of internal communications from deep inside infamous caterer turned troll farmer and mercenary backer Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Libya operation, always referred to simply as “the Company.” These files were originally obtained by the Dossier Centre,  a London-based investigative team funded by former Russian oligarch and political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Please see our summary in The Daily Beast.

Translator’s note: This article was last modified by Pyotr Bychkov, an employee of the Prigozhin-linked Fund for the Defense of National Values, on April 10, 2019

One of the main reasons for K. Haftar’s forthcoming trip to Russia is to demonstrate to all other political players in Libya and interested forces in the international community that he is supported by such a powerful player as the Russian Federation. He has repeatedly used this technique for his own purposes:


  • On 07/11/2018 he made a photograph public from inside closed negotiations at the Russian Ministry of Defence, in order to promote his significance in the eyes of international players and expedite their military and financial support.
  • On 04/03/2019 he spread information in the media and on social networks about 300 troops from the Wagner group, fighting on his side, thereby halting Misrata’s plans to capture El-Jufra. This gave Haftar the time to withdraw his troops from the south towards El-Jufra.


  1. Following the Russian Foreign Ministry’s refusal, on 02/04/2019, to provide official support for his military operation and the participation of Russian troops in it, he shared photographs of an LNA column, including “white” soldiers of European appearance, with media and on social networks. Printed paper license plates with the state number 112 of a Russian region were placed on military vehicles and Kamaz trucks. Representatives of the Company managed to peel off some of these numbers.

Haftar thus intends to demonstrate to political players inside Libya and interested international forces his close relationship and military cooperation with the Russian Federation, so as to increase his significance (“price”) and frighten his rivals.

Before the operation to assault Tripoli, during the so-called “cleansing terrorists from the south of Libya,” the LNA had engaged in no real clashes, while issues of controlling territory had been decided by means of extortion and buying the loyalty of tribal leaders and local officials using funds provided by the UAE. According to expert data, around $150 million was doled out for these purposes, not considering the upkeep of the army and other rolling costs. According to some reports, the operation launched by Haftar is an attempt on behalf of the UAE to speculate on oil prices, which have already risen by 4.4% over the 6 days since the start of the operation – from $62 to $64.70. These are potentially multi-million dollar bumper profits. The UAE has also received contracts to manage the port of Benghazi and contracts for the restoration of the city.

The price of oil may increase further, if the Toubou groups now help capture the oil fields in the south of Libya.

However, Haftar has run into real resistance in the battle for Tripoli, and will not be able to take the capital in the near future. Forces loyal to the GNA are prepared for street fighting, are concealing tanks in residential areas, and will not give up the city without a fight. A protracted assault plays against Haftar: the LNA already has a palpable lack of funds, fuel and ammunition. Haftar is accused of using heavy weapons in urban conditions, and also of using children as soldiers. The GNA has stripped the LNA of funding, allocating 500 million dinars ($360 million) for the maintenance of its own armed groups, and established punitive mechanisms (criminal prosecution of anyone involved in the activities of the LNA). Obviously, Haftar needs a dignified way out of this situation without losing face. Such an off-ramp could be an agreement reached via the mediation of the Russian Federation on a ceasefire in Libya. It would be advantageous to Haftar for him to halt now, while Russia would benefit from stopping him in order to demonstrate a Russian diplomatic victory.

Practically all of the key Libyan actors, with most of whom the Company has established good working relations, are demanding Russia acts as a mediator in peace negotiations. In particular, this is applicable to the leaders of the House of Representatives and the State Council of Libya, representatives of a number of tribes, including the Toubou, Tuareg, key Arab tribes, representatives from the cities of Misrata, Zintan etc.

To establish a legal presence and participation in the resolution of the conflict, it is proposed Reconciliation Centres be opened in all major decision-making centres: Benghazi, Tripoli, Misrata, Zintan, Tobruk, Fezzan, Bani Walid. As present, in the event that Haftar is prepared to continue real cooperation, there are all the capabilities and contacts to open the Centres. Official requests may also be possible from the House of Representatives (Tobruk) and the State Council (Tripoli) as from the legitimate organs of government.