Who is helping Gaddafi out?

Libya, Ajdabiya: A rebel fighter sits on a destoryed tank on the entrance to the city of Ajdabiya on April 5, 2011. (AFP Photo / Odd Andersen)
Troops under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi continue to resist NATO’s military strikes thanks to the help that Belarus military advisers are rendering, says the Russian press.

At least five hundred Belarus military advisers are now stationed in Libya and are fighting for the interests of the country’s leader, said one of the Belarusian mercenaries, Mikhail, to Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. Some of the military there are dealing with military hardware maintenance, while others perform the duties of the Libyan commanders’ advisers, explained the officer. Perhaps it is the foreign mercenaries that are helping Gaddafi retain his military success.

Mikhail said he had spent more than a year in Libya. He had signed a contract and was thus getting around $3000 a month for his services. However, what he did in Libya has nothing to do with the Belarus Ministry of Defense, explained the officer.

While talking with the Belarus Defense Staff the KP correspondents learned that “sending military advisers to Libya is an old habit in the country”. The Defense Staff also admitted that members of the Belarus MD are present in Libya, but they have tied up a contract with the Libyan authorities and thus got the financing directly from them.

Andrey Savinykh, press secretary of the Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denies any presence of Belarus military advisers in Libya: “It is naïve to even assume such a thing”, said Savinykh. According to the Belarus Ministry of Defense such information “is highly provocative and does not correspond to the facts. Only one military man from Belarus is now in Libya, an army attache in the Belarus embassy”. According to the ministry, Libya has seen no Belarus military advisers within its borders. All of the people who now find themselves in the middle of the civil war are those who went to Libya on contract. Savinykh even said that there was a kind of an employment office for former military men in Minsk, who are then sent to such places as Libya, Venezuela and Cote d’Ivoire.

In the interview to the newspaper, the counselor of the Belarus embassy in Tripoli said that before the beginning of these hostilities as many as 500 Belarus military advisers were believed to be in Libya. Later the majority, mainly high-ranking military men, were evacuated to Minsk.

According to KP, CIS countries have long had relations with Libya in their personal history, and Belarus military advisers in the country are nothing new. This may be backed up by the fact that in the Soviet era a lot of Soviet military advisers served in Libya. Back in 1969 when a group of military men under the leadership of Captain Gaddafi mounted a coup d’etat, a big Soviet squadron was near the Libyan shores in the Mediterranean Sea. Today there are no Russian soldiers in Libya. And since the arms export embargo was imposed on Libya Russia has even stopped procuring arms for the Libyan army.