Turkey President Erdogan says Russia managing Libya war 'at highest level'

AFP Ankara, Ankara, Turkey Feb 16, 2020, 04.42 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( WION Web Team )

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The president has repeated the accusation that Russian security company Wagner is supporting Haftar despite Moscow's denials

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Russia of managing the Libyan conflict "at the highest level", local media reported Saturday, as Ankara-Moscow tensions mount.

"Russia is managing the war there right now at the highest level," Erdogan said, according to the Hurriyet daily. Turkey and Russia are currently engaged in a war of words over Syria where the two countries support opposing sides.

Likewise in Libya, Ankara supports the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli while Russia backs military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Watch: 'Turkey will make Syria to pay heavy price' vows Erdogan

The president has repeated the accusation that Russian security company Wagner is supporting Haftar despite Moscow's denials.

"They are presently managing Wagner," Erdogan told Turkish journalists on board his plane after a visit to Pakistan this week. "Yet they still stand up and say, 'there's no link'," he added.

The Wagner Group is a shadowy private security firm and thousands of its security contractors are believed to be in foreign conflicts from Syria to Ukraine to the Central African Republic.

Also Read: Erdogan battles on multiple fronts in risky regional power bid

Erdogan insisted Turkey would continue to support the GNA as part of a security deal signed late last year. He also hit out at the West over backing Haftar without directly naming any country. "The West still supports this man.... (He) is given arms, ammunition and money."

Earlier on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticised the "very dangerous" meddling by some Gulf countries during the Munich Security Conference.

"Those countries believe that democracy in one Arab country or the region is the biggest threat for their own regime," the top Turkish diplomat added.