Is Libya obtaining arms from Belarus?

Belarus has sent planes carrying weapons to Libya, and dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi might well benefit from Belarusian president Viktor Lukasenko's hospitality, according to a Swedish think-tank

A Swedish think-tank renowned for its work on the arms trade has established a connection between Belarus, often dubbed Europe’s last dictatorship, and Libya.

On February 15 a flight from Belarus’ Baranovichi military airbase – which holds a major supply of arms and light weapons left over from the Cold War - landed in southern Libya, Hugh Griffiths, from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPIRI) think-tank, told Radio Sweden.

Mr Griffiths also said that links between Libya and Belarus could be helpful for Gaddafi and his family in the event that they would have to flee the country.

“[Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko] hasn't distanced himself from Gaddafi and he would certainly welcome members of his entourage,” he was quoted by Radio Sweden as saying. He added that Belarusian authorities could also manage to convert large quantities of gold and diamonds into cash.

Options are indeed dwindling for the Libyan dictator, who is refusing to even acknowledge that the Libyan people are protesting against his regime. He has indeed claimed that Libyans “love him,” in a March 1 BBC interview (available here).

The UN and the EU have imposed arms embargoes on Libya, as well as travel bans and assets freezes on Gaddafi’s family and certain government officials.

This week US, EU, French and UK diplomats have said that they did not exclude military action against Libya, possibly through NATO. “Nothing is off the table,” as long as civilians continue to be killed by the government was the common motto, reported the EUObserver.

As of Monday February 28, the UN estimated that the number of dead and wounded in Libya ranged up to thousands, while putting the figure of people having fled to neighboring countries at over 100,000.


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