Tunisia: Russian Military Activity in Djerba Draws Western Scrutiny

by | May 19, 2024 | Diplomacy, Political, Security, Tunisia


On 19 May 2024, an Italian media outlet reported that the US Department of State had expressed concern about Russian military use of the airport on the island of Djerba. 

The Russian Embassy in Libya claimed the information referenced in the report from La Repubblica was false. However, reports indicate that Russia has continued to bolster its presence in Libya in the form of military personnel as well as personnel from the Private Military Contractor Wagner Group.  

The island of Djerba could serve as a likely staging ground for military operations in Libya and the broader Sahel region. 

Commentators have raised questions about warming ties between Russia and Tunisia, particularly as tensions grow with Tunisia’s traditional Western partners. 


Russia, like other countries, likely continues to see Tunisia as a strategic partner that provides a foothold on the African continent. 

With Russia particularly interested in conducting official and unofficial military operations across the Sahel and North Africa, partnerships that enable logistics, diplomacy, and intelligence operations in the region are a prerequisite. Djerba specifically is likely a convenient logistics hub, as well as a place where troops operating in other countries can take leave.  

While the La Repubblica report raised concerns about how a Russian incursion into Tunisia could impact Europe, there appears to be little coordinated effort by the EU and other Western powers to counter Russian diplomatic inroads. 


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