I must say that there are still some reasonable grounds for such throws: against the backdrop of positive Syrian experience, the idea of Moscow interfering in another civil war no longer seems so incredible. In addition, before the start of the Syrian operation of our armed forces, the situation was similar - the grouping of our airborne forces and support equipment was growing steadily over the course of several months, any information about a possible intervention was refuted, and they began to say something intelligible on this subject only after being transferred to Khmeimim our aviationwhen the Americans published the corresponding satellite images.
At the moment there are some indirect indications that our military presence in Libya can change qualitatively: this is the presence of our PMCs there, which is not particularly hidden, and the frequent contacts of representatives of certain Libyan groups with our officials. In Moscow, for example, there was one of the main political (and military, more importantly) players of modern Libya, Khalifa Hoftar, as well as his assistants and representatives. The Kremlin does not refuse to communicate and representatives of other groups, in particular, the internationally recognized Libyan government, but there is one nuance: Haftar, according to the latest data, controls 90% of the territory of Libya. Another detail - the current government of Libya, meeting in Tripoli, created with the active participation of the United States and its European allies. It is not something that is radically anti-Russian, but not exactly pro-Russian.
The current situation in Libya is simple and complex at the same time. As mentioned above, the Caliph-controlled Haftar Libyan National Army (LNA) controls up to 90 percent of the country's territory. But the remaining 10% falls, just, on the capital Tripoli and some areas adjacent to it, as well as in the border with Tunisia. The LNA, which has, among other things, its own air forces, theoretically could probably take Tripoli, especially since the government there is not at all homogeneous and is only a political superstructure of the forced unification of about five armed groups that are not particularly friendly with each other.
The approximate scheme of control of the territory by various groups in Libya. The territory controlled by LNA is marked in red.
But it is necessary to understand how the general himself (according to other sources is already a marshal) Haftar, understands that an armed assault on the capital without adequate political and military cover will surely be served by the Western media as a humanitarian catastrophe. With all the ensuing consequences, including, of course, the humanitarian bombardment of NATO positions by NATO aircraft. Therefore, even in spite of the request for consolidation existing in Libyan society and the cessation of civil strife, such a scenario seems unlikely in modern conditions.
Of course, things can change if some political and military heavyweight intervenes. For example, Russia. And many in Libya, especially in the midst of Khalifa Haftar, are greatly encouraged by the experience of a Syrian settlement under the auspices of Moscow. But is it so easy and beneficial for Moscow itself? Does it make sense to her from such a development of events, or is it necessary to delay this?
It is not at all so easy to answer this question, although on the net you can already find many commentators who consider our political and financial gains from interfering in intra-Libyan affairs. Nevertheless, let us try to analyze the current situation from this angle: will it be useful for Russia or not?
First of all, let us draw attention to the main difference between the situation in Libya and what we have in Syria: the legitimacy of our possible presence. The Assad government in Syria is absolutely legitimate, it is internationally recognized, including the UN, the head of state, and the Russian Armed Forces, acting at the official invitation of the legitimate government, can not doubt the solid legal basis of its presence in this country. The Kremlin’s political positions in the international arena are strong enough. It is not surprising that the United States and its allies did not even try to impose sanctions on the very fact of Russia's armed intervention in Syrian affairs - for this it was necessary to invent and implement provocations with allegedly using chemical weapons.
In Libya, everything is exactly the opposite: we will get sanctions as soon as our military contingent in this country is noticed in any intervention in the internal conflict. It is clear that the same circle of specially trusted friends of Washington will support them, and no more, but still it must be borne in mind.
The argument of some of our “experts” regarding control of the migration flow to Europe and the allegedly increasing Russian influence on the position of European countries does not stand up to criticism. Yes, Libya is indeed the largest migration hub in North Africa. But we will rather receive accusations also of supporting (or even provoking) the wave of migration to the EU, which will probably not have the best effect on our already difficult relationship with European “partners.” Therefore, it is more logical to say that in such a case Russia will need forced restoring of order and the actual solution of the migration issue. And this is likely to require some costs or the introduction of rather draconian measures on the coast.
Talking about the fact that we can get huge profits from the Libyan oil and gas sector also looks at least debatable. Yes, there is quite a lot of oil and gas there, Libya is the leader in this indicator from all the countries of North Africa. But it is also necessary to understand that by the present moment the positions of Western TNCs are already very strong there, which hastened to “stake out a place” at the largest fields. It is not at all difficult to force them out of there. But Russian companies are unlikely to want to go to the vacant seats, while all disputes of this kind are resolved in the courts of London or Stockholm. And as an example of the dispute between Gazprom and the Ukrainian Naftogaz, we all probably understand why ...
The ability to somehow influence the oil and gas markets cannot, of course, be written off. But given the fact that Moscow, as a fire, is afraid to use the “pipeline factor” in relations with the EU, it would be rather naive to think that it would risk shutting off the Libyan gas pipeline to Italy, for example. The share of Libya in the world oil market is about 2% - this, of course, is tangible, but in any crisis situation it is easily replaced by other OPEC members.
Therefore, let us agree that the operation in Libya does not promise Russia any quick payback. If our presence in Syria is a potential threat to the Persian Gulf monarchies who control the world's main reservoir of oil, and it has a direct impact on the willingness of the Saudis and their “smaller brothers” to cooperate with Russia in shaping a fair oil price, then in the case of Libya influence on pricing can be excluded: the scale is not the same and the location is not so good. Rather, the normalization of the situation in the country will lead to an increase in oil production, which will lead to an increase in supply and a slight decrease in world oil prices.
Separately, it should be noted military-strategic importance of Libya. Probably, it can be considered almost ideal - from this country you can control the entire Mediterranean basin, South Europe and North Africa, and also have direct access to the region of Central Africa, rich in various resources and long bored without good Russian supervision.
Actually, the question facing Russia can be formulated in the following way: is Moscow ready to accept tangible costs and political costs for the sake of obvious geopolitical and economic benefits in some perspective, or is it more important for it to “not tease the geese” and save? And the question is not simple, because in both cases quite a lot is at stake.
I would not venture to predict exactly what will be decided in the Kremlin. However, the recent visit of Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi to Russia and his talks with Putin could largely be devoted to the situation in Libya. Egypt is also an open sympathizer of General Khalifa Haftar, and combining the efforts of our countries in this matter can be an additional argument in favor of the start of the Russian (or Russian-Egyptian) operation in the former Libyan Jamahiriya.