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What's Behind False Claims of Russian Special Forces Deployment to Egypt

© Photo : Public DomainSidi Barrani, Egypt
Sidi Barrani, Egypt - Sputnik International
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Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Russia deployed a special forces unit of 22 members and several drones to an Egyptian air base, near the border with Libya. The agency cited unnamed US and Egyptian military and diplomatic sources.

A Libyan army soldier stands guard sitting on an antiaircraft truck during the handover of the Nawaseen military compound, which was the headquarters of Libyan militias, in Souk al-Juma district, Tripoli, Libya - Sputnik International
Reports of Russian Military on Libyan-Egyptian Border 'Untrue' - Libyan Army
The Russian Defense Ministry has already denied Russian military presence in Egypt, saying that certain media outlets had been "stirring the public with such mud-slinging from anonymous sources for years."

Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council's Committee for International Affairs, told Sputnik that Russia has not sent military specialists and drones to any airbase in Egypt.

"Russia did not do that. The defense ministry does not confirm it. It’s fake news that we don't need to pay attention to," Dzhabarov said.

According to the lawmaker, such "stovepiping" is part of an information "war of all against all."

In turn, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the Russian upper house of the parliament’s defense committee, described the allegations as a continuation of anti-Russian rhetoric and an attempt to discredit Russia in terms of the use of its military forces abroad.

In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Ivan Konovalov, director of the Center of Strategic Environment think-tank, noted that there have already been reports that Russia was allegedly in talks with Egypt on deploying military facilities on Egyptian territory.

"Recently, there were several reports that Moscow planned to establish a military base in the Egyptian city of Sidi Barrani. During the Soviet era, there was a Russian military base there. So, there have already been such information attacks. But the recent report by Western media is weird – just 20 special forces officers and several drones. What a strange unit," the expert pointed out.

According to Konovalov, the goal of this disinformation campaign is to show that Russia is restoring its influence in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East.

"They’re trying to fantasize where Russia may deploy its forces, in a bid to completely revive its influence, like it was in the Soviet epoch," the expert said.

Libya has been torn apart by internal conflict since 2011, when the civil war broke out culminating in the demise of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. In December 2015, the United Nations brokered the agreement to establish the Government of National Accord (GNA), which was meant to reconcile Libya’s rival governments — the Council of Deputies based in Tobruk and the Tripoli-based General National Congress. The GNA's Presidential Council was supposed to offer representation to members of Libya's conflicting groups, but the GNA has been struggling to make progress in truly uniting the country.

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