Hardly reassuring words from the man Russia's put in charge of mediating the conflict in Libya.

Mikhail Margelov, the president's special envoy to Africa, said in an interview with the Russian Izvestia newspaper that the regime of Muammar Gaddafi has "a suicidal plan” in place if rebels move to seize Tripoli.

“The Libyan premier told me, 'If the rebels take over the city, we will cover it with missiles and blow it up,'" he said. "I imagine that the Gaddafi regime does have such a suicidal plan."

Margelov met Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, the Libyan prime minister, in the capital last month but hasn't yet met Gaddafi.

He also questioned some Western reports that Gaddafi is running out of weapons.

“Gaddafi still hasn't used a single surface-to-surface missile,” he claimed.

However, Margelov did confirm that the regime is running out of fuel. Petrol queues several kilometres long have formed on the road from the Tunisian border.

"Tripoli theoretically could lack ammunition for tanks, cartridges for rifles. But the colonel has got plenty of missiles and explosives," he said.

Russia isn't the only country trying to mediate an end to the fighting. France recently confirmed that it has been talking to emissaries from Gaddafi, and other sources have said the French serve as a kind of intermediary between the regime and the opposition National Transitional Council.

Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, recently said Gaddafi is "prepared" to step down, the primary demand of the rebels.

Russia has reluctantly come along with the NATO campaign against the Gaddafi regime, though it joined with China in abstaining from the UN Security Council vote that authorised the attacks.