Erdoğan, Putin talk Libya as Turkish forces capture key airfield, Russian missiles

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a phone call on Monday to discuss the situation in Libya, where Turkish-backed Libyan forces have been making significant advances, the Kremlin said in its readout of the conversation.

The talk between the two leaders came hours after forces aligned with Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) took control of an air base south-west of Tripoli and captured a Russian-made Pantsir air defence system mounted on a truck at the base.

"The presidents of Russia and Turkey voiced their concern over the escalation of hostilities in Libya. They noted the need to immediately resume the permanent truce and the intra-Libyan dialogue based on the resolutions of the Berlin International Conference on January 19, 2020, approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2510," the statement said.

Libya has been divided since 2014 between warring factions. The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar, last year launched a military campaign with support from Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to topple the Tripoli-based GNA.

Turkey and Russia pushed for a resumption of peace talks in January, but the peace process broke down after the ceasefire was repeatedly violated and the GNA and LNA’s foreign backers continued sending arms to the country.

Erdoğan has propped up the GNA with military support since last year, when an LNA onslaught extended its control to areas surrounding Tripoli. The GNA has pushed Haftar's forces back since Turkey ramped up its support after signing a military memorandum with the Tripoli government in November.