Mar 14, 2017

Russian troops reportedly spotted in Egypt

Hussein Malla / AP

Russia "appears to have deployed" special forces to an airbase in Egypt 60 miles from the border with Libya in the past few days, according to U.S., Egyptian, and diplomatic sources, per a Reuters report.

Last week the U.S. military commander who oversees U.S. operations in Africa, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia is trying to once again "exert influence" in the country, which used to be its client state. Waldhauser said a good way to characterize what appears to be happening between Russia and Libya is how Russia has been trying to support Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Why it matters: Russia might be planning to prop up Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, which would not be in the best interests of the U.S., according to Waldhauser. That's because Haftar is in a deadlock with the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.

The Russian defense ministry and the U.S. military did not provide comment for Reuters. Egyptian army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said "There is no foreign soldier from any foreign country on Egyptian soil. This is a matter of sovereignty."

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