A handout picture from the Libyan National Army's General Command's Facebook page, shows Libya's military leader Khalifa Haftar (L) welcomed by Russia's Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-bek Yevkurov at a Moscow military airfield on September 26, 2023. AFP
Haftar, who sponsors a rival administration to the internationally recognized Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli, has long cultivated close relations with Moscow and relies heavily on Russian mercenary group Wagner for military support.
Haftar "held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu", his Libyan Arab Armed Forces said on its official Facebook page without giving further details.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed Haftar's meeting with Putin. "They discussed the situation in Libya and the region as a whole," he said in comments reported by Russia's state news agency TASS.
It was the first meeting between the two men since 2019, according to Libyan media.
The eastern military leader, who arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, had already held talks with Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov during his visit.
Yevkurov has been a regular visitor to eastern Libya in recent years, most recently on September 17 when he met Haftar a few days after the huge flash flood which swept away much of the coastal city of Derna, killing thousands of people and leaving thousands more missing.
Haftar's abortive 2019 assault on the seat of the GNU government in Tripoli relied heavily on Wagner mercenaries but failed to overcome its Turkish-backed armed forces.
Since an October 2020 ceasefire brought the offensive to an end, Wagner has redeployed some of its personnel to Mali and Ukraine.
But despite repeated UN Security Council resolutions calling for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Libya, hundreds of Wagner personnel remain stationed in the east as well as in areas of the desert south under Haftar's control.