Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA on the Launch of Military Operation “Irini” by the European Union

Submitted on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 11:04

We took note of the decision of the European Union to launch a new military operation “Irini” in the Mediterranean, with its main goal defined as supporting implementation of the UN arms embargo imposed on Libya.

We would recall that “arms sanctions” were introduced by the UN Security Council as a measure that would contribute to the settlement of the Libyan conflict. In order to enhance the control, the UN Security Council established by its Resolution 2292 in 2016 a special procedure for inspections on the high seas off the coast of Libya. During this time, only individual inspections of suspicious vessels were carried out under the established regime by the EU military operation “Sophia”, the predecessor of “Irini”. In general, the effectiveness of “Sophia” in this field has been low, and last year saw indeed a suspension of the work of its maritime component.

We will closely follow how effective “Irini” will be, especially against the backdrop of escalation of the conflict in Libya and reports of increased violations of the UN arms embargo. We have warned our European partners that the operation should be in full compliance with international law, as well as the framework established by Resolution 2292. Any other steps would require consent of the UN Security Council. We assume that operation “Irini” will cover the entire Libyan coast. Imbalance in the matter could negatively affect international efforts to promote dialogue between the opposing Libyan parties. We will take the above aspects into account while considering another extension of the inspection regime on the high seas off the coast of Libya in June 2020.

Meanwhile, we reaffirm the central role of the UN in the Libyan settlement and look forward to early appointment of a special envoy of the UN Secretary General who would enjoy confidence of the parties to the conflict.