Just a day after US officials were grousing about Russia supporting Libyan National Army leader Gen. Khalifa Hifter, the head of the army backing the Tobruk Parliament, reports from Reuters suggest Russia has deployed a handful of special forces into western Egypt, near the Libya border.
Egyptian officials were cited as claiming there were 22 Russian special forces deployed, but declined to offer details on the mission, which makes exactly what they are there for, and the idea that they are planning to get involved in Libya, purely speculation.
It is possible, however, as Gen. Hifter, a long-time CIA asset, has sought “support” from Russia, and his forces have been recently struggling in fights against the Islamist Benghazi Defense Brigades over key oil export terminals around Ras Lanauf.
Bizarrely, while Egyptian officials confirmed the deployment off the record, Army spokesmen denied that there were any foreign soldiers in Egypt at all, which is demonstrably false as the US and other countries have had troops deployed around the country for years.
While the US is averse to the idea of Russia helping Gen. Hifter retain the oil export terminals, it doesn’t appear that the US-backed “unity government” really has a dog in this fight anyhow, as they lost their territory around the terminals long ago, and aren’t on good terms with either of the forces fighting over them now.