While the U.S. ponders whether to reopen its embassy in Libya, Vladimir Putin’s new ambassador is preparing to take up his post in the capital, extending Russian influence across an oil-producing nation on the doorstep of Europe.

Russia’s Wagner Group, a private military company controlled by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, already has access to key oil facilities and supported last year’s monthslong blockade that hit exports at the height of the energy crisis triggered by the invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow’s decision to reestablish its diplomatic presence in Tripoli — western seat of the United Nations-backed government — is the clearest sign yet that Putin is looking to make inroads beyond his traditional support for military commander Khalifa Haftar in the east.