Arms embargo on Libya shouldn't focus on only one party: Russia

Yasser Seddiq , Tuesday 23 Jun 2020

The head of the Department of International Organisations at the Russian foreign ministry, Pyotr Ilyichev AP

The United Nations Security Council's arms embargo on Libya should not focus on one warring party exclusively, the head of the Department of International Organisations at the Russian foreign ministry, Pyotr Ilyichev, said on Tuesday.

In remarks to Sputnik International, Ilyichev said that “the European Union's sea monitoring has not been highly effective so far.”

The conflict in Libya is at a very tense stage and the country is being flooded with weapons, the senior Russian diplomat said, which makes a peaceful settlement difficult.

“The arms are delivered to Libya by the sea, in particular," he said.

The UN Security Council’s Resolution 2292 in 2016 introduced a special inspection regime off Libya's coast, which was expected to make control over illegal arms flow more efficient, Ilyichev said.

"As part of this regime, the EU naval Operation Sophia was carried out until this year, but its results regarding weapons were meagre. This spring, Sophia was transformed into Irini, but the 'first steps' of this mission can hardly be qualified as impressive so far. Let us see how the situation develops," he said.

Libya is currently split between two rival administrations in the east and the west.

Russia, along with Egypt and the UAE, backs Libya's eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar, who is fighting the forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is backed militarily by Turkey.

Earlier this month, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi proposed a new peace initiative to end the war in Libya.

Report of Russian mercenaries in Libya 'inaccurate'

A report on Russia's military presence in Libya was based on questionable sources and inaccurate information, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday, demanding an investigation into the report, the RIA news agency reported.

A United Nations report in May said Russian private military contractor Wagner Group had up to 1,200 people deployed in Libya.

Ilyichev claimed the data had been falsified and that the group of experts who published the report were seeking to misrepresent Moscow's policy in the region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also discussed the Libyan conflict on Tuesday, saying the crisis could not be solved militarily.

"I have discussed this with many colleagues, and they agree ... that there is no military solution to this conflict. This is the key pillar of all the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council and all the declarations adopted at multiple events, including the Berlin conference, held in January," Lavrov said at a press conference, held after his talks with the foreign ministers of India and China.  

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