BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:10 P.M.) – The U.S. is considering the option of sending troops to Tunisia to counter the “Russian threat” that North African is facing, U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) announced on Saturday, citing a telephone conversation between AFRICOM Commander General Stephen Townsend and Tunisian Defence Minister Imed Hazgui.
“As Russia continues to fan the flames of the Libyan conflict, regional security in North Africa is a heightened concern. We’re looking at new ways to address mutual security concerns with Tunisia, including the use of our Security Force Assistance Brigade,” Townsend said, his comments appearing in an AFRICOM press statement late Friday.
“Tunisia is a prime example of how U.S. support to our African partners aids long-term self-sufficiency, security and development. Our relationship with Tunisia is centered on enhancing our partnership to achieve mutual security goals,” the general added.
These comments by the AFRICOM commander were also shared by the deputy director, General Gregory Hadfield, who accused Russia of “executing the same playbook” in Libya as it supposedly had earlier in Ukraine and Syria to “violate sovereign nations” and destabilize them for the sake of gaining a foothold.
In turn, the Senate State Defence Committee chairman of the Russian Federation, Viktor Bondarev, rejected these allegations, calling the reports of sending 14 modern warplanes to the Libyan National Army (LNA) as ‘nonsense’.
“The MiG-29 is undoubtedly one of the best frontline fighters created by the Soviet aircraft industry. It’s easy to fly, simple to operate and very reliable. But to suggest that one could use a few MiG-29s to capture Libya’s coast is nonsense,” Bondarev said. He added that Libya and other African countries have had access to MiG-29s since the 1980s. “Therefore, if Libya has these planes, they are not Russian, but Soviet,” he stressed.