Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said Wednesday that he would welcome any efforts by Washington to use its influence on Turkey to help fashion a truce in Libya, where Ankara and Moscow are backing opposing sides and appear to be at increasing odds.
Turkey dismissed last week an Egyptian-backed cease-fire offered on behalf of General Khalifa Haftar. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu scoffed that the general only wanted a truce because he was now losing on the battlefield. He said that as far as Ankara was concerned, the cease-fire initiative, broached by Egypts President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, another Haftar backer, was “stillborn.”
The Moscow-backed renegade warlords eastern-based forces last month had to lift their 14-month siege of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, following a massive, game-changing increase in military support by Turkey for the internationally recognized Government of National Accord, or GNA.
Lavrov and Russias defense minister canceled on short notice a planned visit Sunday to Turkey to try to thrash out a cease-fire deal. Some Western diplomats interpret Lavrovs appeal to Washington, an about-turn by Russias foreign minister, who in the past has criticized any Western involvement in Libya, as a sign of mounting exasperation in Moscow over the reversal of Haftars fortunes on the battlefield.