Russia has not sent military personnel to Libya and the Russian upper house of parliament has not received a request to approve such a dispatch, Interfax on May 27 cited Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy head of the upper house’s international affairs committee, as saying.
The U.S. military earlier on May 26 accused Russia of deploying fighter aircraft to Libya to support Russian mercenaries fighting for eastern forces there, adding to concerns of a new escalation in the conflict.
The warplanes left Russia and first stopped in Syria, where they “were repainted to camouflage their Russian origin” before arriving in Libya, said the U.S. military command for Africa (Africom) in a statement.
Stuttgart-based Africom did not specify when the jets flew in, saying only that it was “recently”.
But it appeared to be the latest violation of the nine-year-old U.N. embargo on sending arms into Libya.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said that the Russians had sent a mix of “approximately 14 military fighters.”
Africom posted pictures of the Russian aircraft on its Twitter feed, including one that it said showed several MiG-29 Fulcrum jets and Su-35 Flankers parked at an airbase.
The claim comes a day after Libya’s U.N.-recognised government said hundreds of Russian mercenaries backing rival military commander Haftar had been evacuated from combat zones south of the capital Tripoli.