The Kremlin has created a three-dimensional strategy involving intimidation, undermining the Western-engineered global order and creating and protecting markets for the sale of Russian weapons that is designed to strengthen the country politically and economically.
Near the end of a recent report on the resurgence of both the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Libya was an almost offhand mention of Russian special operations forces active along the country’s border with Egypt, helping provide weapons to Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whose forces dominate eastern Libya. This seemingly minor fact is, in reality, emblematic of important trends in Russia’s revanchist foreign policy.When Moammar Gadhafi controlled Libya from 1969 to 2011, he was an excellent customer for Soviet weaponry and military advice. But in the chaos after his overthrow and death, the Russian Embassy in Tripoli was attacked and all diplomats and their families withdrawn. Moscow seemingly had written Libya off. But it is now re-entering this chaotic political environment in North Africa as part of a three-dimensional global strategy designed to strengthen Russia politically, enrich it economically and allow it to punch above its weight in a rapidly changing security environment.