US Accuses Russia of Sending Fighter Jets to Back Libya’s Hafter

Russia reportedly tells Hafter they want a ceasefire

US officials are accusing the Russian government of having sent multiple MiG fighter jets to Libya to back Gen. Khalifa Hafter’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA). Russia has not commented on the images of the planes, but previously denied any direct state involvement in Libya.

Russia’s government has been rather publicly backing Hafter for months, as have a number of other nations that envision him as a military dictator alternative to other, relatively Islamist-leaning factions in the country. Russian mercenaries are reportedly deployed in Libya as part of the LNA’s force, though again Russia denies direct state involvement in this.

By contrast, the US position on Libya is very unclear. At times Trump has shown signs of backing Hafter, but the US is also deeply critical of him to the extent he is seen as pro-Russian. At the same time, in the face of LNA defeats in recent weeks, the US is calling on the government of national accord (GNA) to support a ceasefire.

In that regard, the Russians are on the same page, as despite all this hype about the fighters, the Russians are telling Hafter that they support immediate ceasefires and negotiations. This puts them in contrast with other major LNA backers like the UAE who are urging a counter-offensive in the face of losses.

The US position is no less clear at this point, and it appears the priority is to rub Russia’s nose into being caught with jets in the country, as opposed to actual policy on the Libyan Civil War itself.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.