4 December – 10 December 2019: US believe Russian air defence system responsible for shot down drone

Dec 11, 2019 | International actors

On 7 December, US Army General, Stephen Townsend stated that he believed Russian air defence systems were responsible for shooting down an American unarmed drone over Tripoli in November and has called for the aircraft’s wreckage to be returned. Townsend believes those operating the air defence ‘didn’t know’ it was a US drone at the time but “they certainly know who it belongs to now and they are refusing to return it. They say they don’t know where it is but I am not buying it.” US Africa Command (AFRICOM) reportedly believes that either Libyan National Army (LNA) forces or Russian mercenaries were operating the air defence systems at the time.
On 5 December, the text of the maritime agreement signed on 27 November between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey was published after it was approved by the Turkish parliament. Turkish President Erdogan stated the maritime agreement allowed Libya and Turkey to undertake joint exploration operations in the eastern Mediterranean exclusive economic zones (EEZ) outlined in the agreement, that Turkey could undertake drilling on Libya’s continental shelf with approval from Tripoli, and that the agreement was consistent with international law. Erdogan said, “Greek Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Israel cannot establish a gas transmission line without first getting permission from Turkey.”
On 6 December, the Greek Foreign Ministry stated it had given the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Libyan Ambassador to Greece 72 hours to leave the country, in response to the maritime agreement controversy. The GNA’s Foreign Minister, Mohamed Siyala, said in an interview on Libyan television that Greece’s decision was “unacceptable” and stressed that the GNA would have expelled the Greek ambassador in retaliation if Greece had diplomatic representation in Libya.
On 9 December, European Union (EU) foreign affairs council meeting in Brussels discussed the maritime deal, with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias attempting to gather support against Turkey’s move. However, ministers said sanctions were not yet on the cards for Turkey and instead focused on studying the deal and its implications. Greece received statements of support from Austria and the Netherlands.