Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council meeting on peace and security in Africa

I would like to thank Mr. El-Ghassim Wane, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, for his substantial briefing.

Russia supports a speedy and appropriate response by the international community to the challenges and threats facing the African continent generally and the Sahelo-Saharan region in particular. We have consistently supported a united international effort that will enable us to agree on specific approaches to combating the threat of terrorism, with an emphasis on cooperation with the countries of the region in strengthening their anti-terrorist activities.

However, we believe that in order to achieve lasting peace in Africa, the role of the Africans themselves is becoming increasingly important. In that regard, we welcome the establishment by the countries of the region of the Group of Five for the Sahel joint force to counter terrorism, and we support resolution 2359 (2017), which approved its deployment.

The full-scale deployment of the joint force on the ground will help to deal with a number of challenges, not just combating the terrorist threat. Terrorists work closely with various criminal groups, pirates and smugglers. They exploit national and transnational security gaps to carry out their illicit activities. In essence, they capitalize on chaos, instability and the suffering of civilians. They provide material support to terrorists, and, as a result, drug and weapons smuggling as well as uncontrolled and illicit migration flourish in the region.

The serious nature of the ongoing danger posed by terrorist groups in the Sahel region was once again made clear by the 13 August attack on a hotel in Burkina Faso and on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali unit and Malian soldiers yesterday. We strongly condemn these bloody attacks against civilians and peacekeepers. We extend our condolences to the families and friends of those who died and wish the victims a speedy recovery.

Without a victory over the terrorist hydra, it will be impossible to achieve political stabilization or to make significant progress in solving social and economic problems. At the same time, military measures alone cannot solve these problems. In order to counter extremist ideology, its breeding ground needs to be eliminated by better tackling pressing social and economic problems and by strengthening Government institutions in that part of the African continent.

In that regard, the consistent implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel is now more pertinent than ever. There is a need to increase the return from its mechanism. What is crucial in these efforts is the coordinating role of the United Nations and its close cooperation with African structures and different States. Furthermore, their opinion is a priority in this process.

For the international community, the SaheloSaharan region is facing a lot of work in terms of assistance regarding the approaches developed by the African countries themselves, and Russia is prepared to continue supporting them. It is also important for external assistance not to devolve into the imposition of one-size-fits-all solutions that include elements foreign to African States.

It was precisely external interference and the destruction of statehood in Libya that led to the wholesale destabilization of the country and the Sahel region as a whole.