Russian president Vladimir Putin is planting troops and weapons in Libya to establish a strategic stronghold against the west, intelligence chiefs say.
Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned that the country will become Putin's 'new Syria' by using it as a base for missiles.
Two military bases have been set up in the towns of Benghazi and Tobruk under the cover of Wagner Group, a private military firm.
It is believed Moscow's main priority is to take control in the North African country, which is the biggest illegal immigration route to Europe, The Sun Online reports, with fears the influx would be 'like a tap' being turned on.
'Dozens' of GRU secret service personnel and Spetznaz special forces officers are reportedly training in the east of the country.
Kalibr missiles as well as S300 air defence systems are also thought to be on Libyan ground.
The Kremlin backs General Khalifa Haftar, the country's most powerful warlord. Russia is channeling equipment to his troops in the Libyan National Army.
Haftar has established himself as the military ruler of swathes of the country's eastern regions.
A senior Whitehall source said that if Russia controls Libya's coastline, migrants could seek to cross the Mediterranean as though a tap had been turned on.
The source said Putin was attempting to take ungoverned space in order to 'exact maximum influence over the West'.
'The fact is we are extremely vulnerable to both immigration flows and oil shock from Libya,' they said, adding that the consequences for Western democracy could be 'catastrophic'.
Establishing a Russian presence could allow Putin to conduct operations in the western Med.
Last night MPs called on the government to take action against the new threat from Putin.
Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, called the revelations 'alarming' and said Russia would 'no doubt try to exploit migration routes'.
He added that destabilising sub-Saharan countries is 'intimately' linked the Britain's national security.
Since the brutal dictator of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, was toppled in 2011 the country has been in chaos after a failed Anglo-French intervention.
Despite the United Nations backing a government in the capital, Tripoli, its influence barely extends beyond the city.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.