Last Dive of Putin in the Water

Parisa Pasandepour
7 Min Read
Last Dive of Putin in the Water

Putin’s last move in the water

Putin’s latest move is to establish a Russian naval base in the Mediterranean

Putin’s last move in the water, according to Iran Gate, is the idea of ​​establishing a Russian naval base in Libya, which has been circulating among diplomatic corridors for years. In addition, Russia has been a close ally of General Haftar since 2016, when the powerful man from Sirte began to take full control of the eastern part of the country. Moscow, especially in exchange for economic and military assistance, often requests permission to deploy part of its fleet to Benghazi or Tobruk. However, the pressure on General Haftar will now intensify. Some Wall Street Journal reporters have reported that US security sources have informed them about Washington’s concerns about the potential expansion of Russian influence in the Mediterranean Sea.

Moscow’s pressure on Haftar

According to the Wall Street Journal, at least two ports have been identified for Russian ship docking by Moscow. The first is Benghazi, the largest and most important city in the Sirte region, where Haftar himself is based. The other is Tobruk, located a few kilometers from the Egyptian border and the easternmost part of the Libyan coast. In both cases, these two ports are already equipped with the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the fleet.

Therefore, the Russians can convert one of the two cities in Libya into a secondary base for Moscow in the Mediterranean Sea with minimal cost and allocation of financial resources. As we know, Russia’s first base is in Tartus, a city and port in southwestern Syria, which dates back to the 1960s during the agreements between the Soviet Union and Hafez al-Assad, the father of Bashar al-Assad, the current President of Russia. According to one of the agreements, Tartus was transformed into a base for Russian ships in the Mediterranean Sea at that time.

The Russian Navy has a naval base in the port city of Tartus in the Mediterranean Sea until 2042. If they lose this base, the Mediterranean Sea will become a sea under the control of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Therefore, the port city of Tartus is strategically important in the relations between Russia and Syria.

The coup in Libya is important for Russian ambitions in the Mediterranean Sea, especially in Africa. That’s why, according to The Wall Street Journal, Putin has recently sent important envoys to Libya, including Deputy Defense Minister Yunes Bek Yevkurov, for direct talks with Haftar. According to reports, Yevkurov has repeatedly visited Benghazi in recent weeks.

At the end of August and a few days before the plane crash in which Yorgin Pregojin was traveling, Yukorov had asked General Haftar to free himself from Wagner’s presence and start withdrawing Wagner’s forces from Libya. This means essentially disassociating from the private company owned by Pregojin and the Kremlin’s representative in eastern Libya.

But now instead, this request directly relates to the possibility of establishing a naval base in one of the two important ports in the Sirte region. Currently, General Haftar’s response and intention regarding this request are unclear and ambiguous, also due to the fact that Haftar currently has to deal with the disaster caused by the Hurricane Daniel in the areas under his control.

Why is Russia demanding the establishment of a base in Libya?

Moscow currently has many interests in the region extending from North Africa to the coast. This is evident by the fact that the Wagner Group has been active not only in Libya but also in coastal countries such as Mali and the Central African Republic for a long time. Now the Kremlin is trying to replace Pregojin’s company with other private companies, with the aim of continuing past activities and remaining in the sandy hills of the desert, thus investing in Africa.

A naval base in Libya will undoubtedly facilitate Vladimir Putin’s plans for two main reasons. Firstly, it firmly establishes Russia as a major player in North African countries, where regional powers are still striving to assert their own influence. Secondly, it clearly gives Moscow an important position in the African domain.

There is another reason that should not be underestimated, which is related to the tug-of-war with the United States and NATO. However, it must be acknowledged that establishing a naval base just a few kilometers away from Greece and Italy will certainly be seen as a disrespect towards the Atlantic alliance.

Washington’s response

The United States is well aware of Russia’s actions in Libya, not only now but also for several months ago. In fact, it is not a coincidence that Washington has suddenly returned to dealing with the Libyan case after years of absence. In recent months, the White House has sent William Burns, the head of the CIA, to Tripoli and Benghazi. He met with the Prime Minister of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, and General Haftar. In the coming days, other envoys will also go to Libya and hold meetings in the eastern and western parts of the country.

The idea of the United States is clear: only through the reunification of Libya can they prevent Haftar from slipping into the hands of Russia. Therefore, US diplomacy’s goal is very clear and obvious: to facilitate dialogue between the parties and create favorable conditions for the Government of National Unity. Washington can leverage the fact that Haftar holds US citizenship to convince him not to surrender to Moscow’s demands.


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Master's Degree in International Relations from the Faculty of Diplomatic Sciences and International Relations, Genoa, Italy.