This week, as Russian officials met with the the Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), reports surfaced that the Russian Wagner private military company has transferred a new group of mercenaries from Syria to fight in Libya.
On 3 March, Israel’s Environment Protection Minister, Glia Gamliel issued a series of tweets claiming to have received information identifying the oil tanker, EMERALD, as a ‘Libyan-owned pirate vessel’ which recently left Iran bound for Syria seeking to commit an “act of environmental terrorism” against Israel. The EMERALD is likely to have been responsible for a leak of as much 1,000 tonnes of oil off the Israel coastline on 1-2 February 2021.
On 5 March, the Tripoli-based Libyan News Agency (LANA) reported that the Russian Wagner private military company transferred a new group of pro-Assad mercenaries from Syria to fight in Libya. According to the report, the mercenaries received training in a Russian camp before being transferred to Libya. The mercenaries will be contracted for a period of five months at 1,200 USD per month. Wagner allegedly informed the new mercenaries that their deployment will involve protecting oil installations in Libya, rather than participating in military operations.
On 4 March, the Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Jan Kubis, met the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow. They discussed political, security and economic developments in Libya, including the implementation of the political roadmap and the ceasefire agreement.