The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said that the presence of Wagner Group mercenaries in Libya is “on a commercial basis,” saying the private security company was invited by the authorities in Tobruk - referring to the House of Representatives.

"We explained the developing situation in Libya, as this private military company was invited by the authorities in the city of Tobruk, where the Libyan parliament is located," Lavrov said in an interview with the American Barron’s magazine, adding that Wagner mercenaries are in Libya and in Mali on a commercial basis.

Lavrov reiterated his country's official position that Wagner "has nothing to do with the Russian state and said he had made this clear to his French colleagues when they got concerned. He said Wagner agreed with the government in Mali to provide security services.

He indicated that his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told him directly in September 2021 that "Russia has nothing to do in Africa, whether through government forces or private military companies."

The private military company Wagner Group is known to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and its members are suspected of committing violations in Libya, Mali and Syria.