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A central bank of eastern Libya controlled by LNA’s leader Khalifa Haftar stepped up deliveries of new banknotes from Russia this year as he accelerates his offensive on Tripoli to overthrow internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and usurp power in the state.
On November 1st, 2019 The Times of Malta reported that the security authorities of Malta had seized a huge shipment of unofficial Libyan currency, printed in Russia, heading for areas under control of warlord Khalifa Haftar. The currency was packed in two 2000-cubic-feet containers, and was seized during a stopover in Malta.
By seizing the cargo, Malta enforced UN resolutions on Libya.
According to Reuter’s sources, a total of 10 billion dinars had arrived at the bank from Russia. Nearly 4.5 billion Libyan dinars ($3.22 billion) were dispatched in four shipments from February to June. The sums in 2017, 2018, and 2019 were 4 billion, 2.377 billion and 4.428 billion dinars respectively, amounting to a total of 10.805 billion dinars.
Haftar’s central bank is known to have started receiving banknotes from Russia in 2016.
The new banknotes appear to push the total quantity of dinars ordered from Russia since 2016 above the 10 billion, and underscore the dependence of eastern factions on the deliveries. Libyan side does not control printing, so the Kremlin get opportunity to produce unlimited numbers of banknotes for its politic operations in this country and even overthrow him in case of emergency.
A public customs database of Russia showed that 175.7 tones of banknotes had been shipped from Russia to Libya in 2016, about 24 tones more than in 2018.
The transitional government in East Libya by Abdella at-Tani started ordering banknotes from Russia as a liquidity crisis across Libya worsened in 2016, using them to pay state employees and interest on the bonds. According to reliable sources, banknotes were published on state-own company Goznak that prints roubles – Russia’s official currency. So, the contract on printing currency was approved on the highest level in the Kremlin. Ramzi al-Agha, head of the eastern central bank’s division, said that the bank had contracts for the provision of between 8 to 9 billion dinars from Russia.
The Tripoli central bank (GNA control) has received occasional shipments of dinars printed in Britain. The British and Russian printed banknotes look very similar but have slight differences in design. But the printing of banknotes in Russia could undermine Libyan economy .
Deliveries of new banknotes from Russia for Haftar were stepped up before and after eastern-based warlord launched a military offensive to capture Tripoli. Haftar launched his campaign in early April.
Printed in Russia banknotes will help to pay for the loyalty of Haftar’s fighters and local tribal leaders who stand with LNA’s warlord. In this way the Kremlin does not expend rubles or foreign currencies like euro, pounds or dollars. Russia provides financial aid to LNA warlord with bogus banknotes that in reality cost the price of their paper and printing work.
WARNING: By its support Russia is trying to push Libya under Khalifa Haftar power. This will lead to Russian influence on the world oil prices through the control of oil producing and export amounts and also to signing an agreement to set military sea base on Mediterranean.
Libya, which is located near Italy, has emerged as one of the sources of the migrant influx to Europe. So, financing active radical developments in this country, the Kremlin could direct a massive wave of refugees to destabilize Europe.
Russia, as a strategic player in Libya, will be given another advantage in political negotiations with EU Mediterranean members, as the latter is holding interest in stabilizing the situation in Libya to stop a mass influx of refugees. By backing Haftar’s self-styled LNA, Moscow is in hopes of seizing control over a critical refugee transit route to Europe.