MOSCOW, March 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russian oil company Tatneft said on Thursday that staff have returned to Libya for the first time since the energy-rich North African country was convulsed by a violent uprising.
Tatneft said it took its decision after a meeting in January between its executives and the president of the Libyan National Oil Corporation to discuss the resumption of company activities.
The return of the Tatneft spells a resumption of the substantial Russian commercial interests put at risk by the months-long uprising in 2011 that culminated in the toppling and brutal killing of long-standing dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The Tatarstan-based company says it invested around $260 million in Libya over six years of operations in the country until it was forced to freeze all prospecting work and suspend its contract with the Libyan National Oil Company in March 2011.
Several leading Russian companies had signed profitable deals with Gaddafi’s government.
Russian railway monopoly RZD won a contract to build a 550-kilometer high-speed rail link between the Mediterranean coast towns of Sirte and Benghazi.
Oil company Gazprom Neft was also present in Libya, while state arms exporter Rosoboronexport had a contract to sell weapons to the country.
Russia lost around $4 billion in military sales to Libya due to the civil war and resultant UN sanctions on Tripoli, according to data from Rosoboronexport and the Federal Military-Technical Agency.
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The clash of Russian and Western interests has given rise to a geopolitical battle. German politicians are trying to leave all doors and windows open for dialogue with Russia. Moscow does acknowledge this, and Germany is probably the only country with which it is ready to discuss European security.