On 24 March, the ambassadors of the five UN Security Council Permanent Members (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US) issued a joint statement. The statement called on all parties to exercise restraint, avoid fighting and settle differences through the political processes, reiterating that the recent conflict in Tripoli and the Oil Crescent threatened Libya’s peace, stability and security. The statement made no mention of the Government of National Accord (GNA) specifically.
On 23 March, UN Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler, who is expected to depart his post next month, met GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Kobler reminded Serraj that the legitimacy of the GNA and the High Council of State (HCS) are both derived from the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). Serraj reportedly said that the obstinacy of Khalifa Haftar and the House of Representatives (HoR) is still the main obstacle to a political settlement. It is uncertain whether the UNSC P5 countries will come to an agreement on the fate of UNSMIL and a replacement for the UN envoy. The US vetoed the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as Kobler’s replacement.
On 24 March, head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) Marine General Thomas Waldhauser told a press conference that there was an “undeniable” link between Russia and Khalifa Haftar, explaining that Russia is on the ground in the region and is trying to influence the action. He said this deepening role is a cause for concern for the US. US AFRICOM later clarified that they are aware of Russian military in the North Africa region, specifically Egypt. There were reports earlier this month that the United States has observed what appeared to be Russian special operations forces and drones at Sidi Barrani in Egypt, about 60 miles (100 km) from the Egypt-Libya border. Russia denied this.