Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC briefing on the G5 Sahel Joint Force
I thank ASG Pobee and the other briefers for their inputs.
Unfortunately, the situation in the Sahel is not improving. On that, we fully agree with you. Terrorist activity in the region does not abate, inter-ethnic and inter-communal conflicts remain acute, which negatively impacts the security situation. Dozens of servicemen and hundreds of civilians die at the hands of militants.
Urgent challenges that countries of the region are faced with have resulted from the longstanding problems in the area of security, combating terrorism, socio-economic and humanitarian difficulties that remained unresolved for years.
Recently a new destabilizing factor evolved, I mean the dramatic increase in attempts to turn the Sahel into another field for geopolitical confrontation, which runs counter to the national interests of the states and peoples of the region. Thus, internal disagreements in the G5 Sahel, largely provoked from the outside, forced Mali to leave this association on May 15, which is why further activities of this mechanism require significant adjustment.
Russia is convinced that coordination of efforts of the African Union, ECOWAS, and other regional organizations aimed at countering terrorism in the Sahel remains crucial. The tradition of providing mutual assistance in Africa, based on the in-depth understanding of national needs, can facilitate adoption of urgent measures to strengthen security mechanisms and state institutions, resolve socio-economic problems, and uphold human rights. Further radicalization of the population, especially the youth, must be precluded.
In this context, we take note of the extraordinary session of the Joint Operational Staff Committee of the Chiefs of Staff of Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, and Niger that convened in Algiers on 13 October and where the participants reiterated their commitment to coordinating steps to maintain peace and security in the region.
We support the message about the need to take additional collective steps in order to improve the situation in the Sahel, which was articulated by the high-level meeting that was held in New York on 26 September as part of the initiative on security, governance, and development in the Sahel that the African Union, United Nations, ECOWAS, and G5 Sahel had launched this summer.
International assistance to the Sahel must be provided given strict observance of the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of states, respect for their national sovereignty, and in accordance with the approach “African solutions to the African problems”. The return of states to constitutional governance, the need for which does not raise any doubt, must be free from attempts to impose outside scenarios and base on sober-minded and realistic assessments. This is what my country is guided by when providing bilateral support to those who need it.
Mali is a good example. We agree with the point of transitional Malian authorities that liberation of Malian territories from terrorist control is the primary task that needs to be accomplished in order for the transitional period to terminate successfully and general elections to be held. In this regard, we must also highlight that with the support of Russian instructors, the Malian armed forces achieved impressive successes in the fight against terrorism in 2022, admittedly far surpassing anything that was done in previous years. Unlike our Western colleagues, Russia is providing military and technical assistance to Bamako without any political preconditions. Our relations are based on years-long equal bilateral cooperation and understanding of the need to combat the global evil of terrorism.
Today we have heard some and presumably will hear more attempts to besmirch our assistance to Mali and other countries of the continent. Stories about Russian mercenaries are spread by those who had spent not years but decades sending their “soldiers of fortune” to Africa in order to overthrow the unwanted regimes and gain control of Africa’s vast natural resources. Our American colleagues mention ‘Wagner' in all their statements with striking consistency, which clearly indicates what it is that the US is so worried about.
Another commonplace is their endless lectures as to how Africans should govern their countries, who they should cooperate with, how they should extract, use, and sell their mineral resources. As if Washington knew better than the regionals how they should run their states and use their natural riches. Russia has never done such a thing in Africa. Our assistance always had firm legal grounds, whereby the interests and the people of host states always were regarded as an overriding priority.
Russia will continue participating constructively in collective efforts aimed at ensuring stability in the Sahara-Sahel region, rendering bilateral assistance to the Sahel in enhancing the capacity of its armed forces, training of military and law enforcement personnel, and also assistance in the humanitarian area, including education and healthcare.