A visit to a Russian aircraft carrier by Libya’s Khalifa Haftar has given the eastern–based commander a symbolic boost while also signaling Moscow’s interest in a greater role in the region following its intervention in Syria.

Haftar is a figurehead for east Libyan factions who harbors national ambitions, and his renewed engagement with Russia comes at a time when the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli that he has shunned is once more in crisis.

Russian support could embolden Haftar in making a play for power in Tripoli, a move likely to fuel conflict and represent a major setback for genuine unity government in Libya. […]