UK wary of Russian support for Libyan general; Trump’s position unclear

by WorldTribune Staff, February 23, 2017

Russia’s defense minister has warned the UK against interfering in Moscow’s foreign policy after Britain’s defense secretary said “we don’t need the bear sticking his paws” into Libya.

Sir Michael Fallon had criticized talks held between Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Libyan National Army commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar, warning against Russian interference in the ongoing chaos in Libya, according to a Feb. 22 report by the UK’s Independent.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu with President Vladimir Putin. /Getty Images

“What is on [Britain’s] coat of arms, a lion, isn’t it?” Shoygu asked during a recent speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. “There is an old saying: every lion is a cat, but not every cat is a lion. Everyone should deal with their affairs.

“We do not think that there is an animal in their zoo that can tell a bear what to do.”

Haftar, who has refused to support the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya, visited Moscow twice last year and was invited onto Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier as it returned from waters off the coast of Syria in January, holding a video conference with Shoygu on board.

The Kremlin said the pair discussed “fighting against terrorism in the Middle East,” adding that Russia had sent medical supplies to Haftar’s forces.

Haftar also has the backing of Egypt and the UAE but was shunned by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration. President Donald Trump’s position remains unclear.

Britain is among the countries training the Libyan coast guard and gives Tripoli millions of pounds worth of aid.