Published: Mon, January 13, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Putin Says He Hasn’t Sent Russian Mercenaries to Libya

Putin Says He Hasn’t Sent Russian Mercenaries to Libya

"I hope that by the end of this year, or in the first quarter of next year, work will be finished and the gas pipeline will start operating", Putin told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after talks at the Kremlin.

Turkey backs Fayez al-Serraj's Tripoli-based, internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and has said it will send military advisers and possibly troops to reinforce its support, while Russian military contractors have been deployed alongside General Khalifa Haftar's eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

The contractors are recruited by a private military group known as Wagner Group whose members are mostly ex-service personnel.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that a new set of Libyan peace talks would be held in Berlin, as Russian Federation and Turkey continue to call for forces in Libya to enter a ceasefire.

The Prime Minister stressed that the year 2020 would be of special significance for Russian Federation, and recalled with gratitude the invitation of President Putin to the Prime Minister to participate in the 75th Victory Day Celebration in Moscow in May this year.

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The German and Russian leaders also discussed the conflict in war-torn Libya. Putin thanked the chancellor for visiting and said they would focus on "the hottest" topics.

The two leaders expressed happiness at the significant landmarks the Special Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries had covered in the recent past, particularly in the year 2019.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who will attend the talks, said a "key reason" for the meeting was the escalating crisis in Libya, where Germany is acting as a mediator in a conflict he has warned could become a "second Syria".

Putin in December held talks with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris in the "Normandy format" hosted by German and French leaders. They said both sides are pushing Iran to return to the conditions of the joint plan. "The question is the timing", added Putin, addressing the USA sanctions.

'We think Germany's initiative to host an worldwide conference on Libya in Berlin is timely, ' he said. Haftar said he would fight on despite the call for a ceasefire.

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