The US Congress is seeking to sanction Russia for its role in supplying mercenaries to Libya's civil war.
The Senate is set to introduce legislation that would enact financial sanctions to limit Russian mercenary activity. The administration would have to apply visa bans and freeze US property for those involved in arms trafficking, exploiting Libya's oil reserves or human rights abuse. It would also push the administration to work with humanitarian organisations to ensure aid be delivered to appropriate channels.
According to a Russia expert, "Russia is very interested in oil reserves, it is very interested in restoring previous contacts, it will be interested in supporting the side that can deliver that.... it maintains good contacts with this camp and that camp trying to decide where the situation is going."
Former US Africom commander told Congress that Russia's strategy involved invoking Gaddafi-era "relationships and debts to obtain economic and military contracts".
So far - Russia has been little able to affect migrant flow as a way to pressure Europe - since most of the ports are controlled by GNA-linked militias, while Russia currently backs the LNA. This is, as it likely thinks it can have more leverage over Haftar and the LNA.
However, this strategy may have backfired. Haftar has showed he is limited in what he can achieve, as he has not been able to take Tripoli even with Russian help. Moreover, Russia's interference seems to have caused the US to pay attention and reinject energy into the issue as a priority.
The State Department recently reiterated its "support for Libya's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's attempts to exploit conflict against the will of the Libyan people". After what seemed like a shift in US policy to support Haftar, the State Department and now Congress seem to be coming back around to the UN-backed GNA.
Such legislation would also give State Department $23 million to invest in Libyan civil society and elections over 4 years, ahead of the UN backed Berlin conference expected to take place by year end, as well as instruct the administration to appoint a Libya envoy.