>> Russia appears to have deployed special forces to an air base in western Egypt, near the border with Libya. A sign of Russian President Vladimir Putin expanding his reach in the Middle East after more than a year in Syria. Pentagon correspondent, Adreesa Lee, has the exclusive.>> According to US officials, Egyptian sources, and a Russian diplomat.
Russia appears to be sending special forces and equipment associated with special forces to a western Egyptian air base and it appears to be that they have been sent there to help support a Libyan military commander.>> US officials telling Reuters the Russian troops appear to be located at an air field in the town of Sidi Barrani, about 60 miles from the Egypt Libya border.
This after Russia and Egypt held joint military exercises for the first time in October, amid fears that chaos in Libya could spill over its borders. Ever since the toppling of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, oil rich Libya has been a patchwork of rival thief Vying for control.
The US and UN backed government in Tripoli faces a challenge from rival military commander Khalifa Haftar. Several western countries, including the US, have already sent special forces to Libya to support the central government but Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown signs of support for Haftar. Amid Putin's ongoing support for President Bashar al-Assad against rebels in neighboring Syria, despite international condemnation.
>> Part of the reason why they would be interested in backing is because it undercuts the influence of the United States and Western countries in Libya, and it's seen as a counter-balance to what the US has and what they're doing.>> Egypt and Russia both denied the presence of Russian troops, saying there is no agreement on Moscow's use of Egyptian bases or any troops at Sidi Barrani.