Russian FM Lavrov’s visit ‘postponed over Libya ceasefire’
A planned visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Turkey scheduled for June 14 was cancelled because of a proposed ceasefire in Libya, which Ankara rejected, Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote on June 17, citing Turkish officials.
“The postponement of the visit could be related to this [ceasefire]. There may be a connection between the two events,” the officials said, confirming the previous suggestions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu last week undermined the recent “Cairo initiative” of General Khalifa Haftar and said when the general was losing, he attempted for a ceasefire in Libya. He noted the initiative, supported by Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, was “stillborn.”
Turkey supports Fayez al-Sarraj’s U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), whose forces have in recent weeks repelled a 14-month assault on Tripoli by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
Russia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, backs the LNA.
Activation of S-400 systems
The officials also said that the activation process for the S-400 air defense systems Turkey purchased from Russia is running its course.
“They said we could not buy them. We did. They said we could not bring them in to Turkey. We did. We trained the personnel who would use the systems,” the officials added.
Selvi noted that the tensions between Turkey and Russia have a direct impact on the S-400s issue. The problems stemming from Libya and Haftar will affect the activation of the missile systems, Selvi observed.
Another reason behind the delay in the activation of the S-400 systems is the relations between Turkey and the U.S, according to Selvi. The improvement of the relations between the two countries causes further delay in the activation, he added.
Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın in late April said that Turkey delayed the activation of the Russian S-400 air defense systems due to the pandemic, but stressed the sophisticated military equipment will be operational as planned.