U.S. Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s longer term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies.
Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, deputy director for intelligence, said the U.S. tracked the MiG-29 fighter jets and SU-24 fighter bombers that were flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Khalifa Hifter and his self-styled Libyan National Army, that have been waging an offensive to capture Tripoli.
“If Russia secures a permanent position in Libya and, worse, deploys long range missile systems, it will be a game changer for Europe, NATO and many Western nations,” said Hadfield. Russia’s interference in Libya, he said, give it access to that country’s oil and a “military base strategically positioned in striking distance of Europe.”
Click here to read the rest of the article.