President Donald Trump's administration needs be sure that Russia does not take control of the government of Libya, New York Rep. Eliot Engel told the Washington Examiner.
"It is important that Libya, whatever government gets installed, it's not another puppet government of Russia," according to Engel, the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's team is supporting one warlord among those competing for power in the nation after the ejection of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Part of Putin's diplomatic agenda now includes Libya, the Examiner reported.
"Whoever is installed in Libya, we have to do everything we can to make sure it's a government that will work with us and not work with Putin," Engel said.
Italy has an interest in Libya and also has ties to Russia that are seen as stronger than other Western countries, according to the Examiner.
"We hope for a constructive approach on the part of Moscow, and its understanding that stabilizing the situation in Libya and the Mediterranean is quite important for Italy," Italian President Sergio Mattarella said during a joint press conference with Putin, the Examiner reported.
Opponents of Gen. Khalifa Haftar, Russia's partner in Libya, control Libya's National Oil Corporation. However, Haftar controls the actual oil reserves.
Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the 2011 revolution that led to Gadhafi being ousted left chaos in the country afterward. Russia met in March with Fayez Al Sarraj, the leader of Libya's Government of National Accord, a group backed by the United Nations, according to The National.
"Russia is interested in Libya finally becoming a working state after this barbaric intervention that was conducted from outside, that led to catastrophic consequences. That is why we are interested in the swift development of a durable power in Libya," Peskov said.
Engel has gone on record before about problems in Libya. In February 2016, he said ISIS could rise in the country thanks to the lack of leadership.
"The same themes are already playing out in Libya and Yemen. Terrorists love a vacuum. In the absence of real stability, rule of law, and effective government, ISIS will fill the void," he said in a statement.
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