Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC briefing on G5 Sahel Joint Force
We thank Assistant Secretary-General Martha Pobee for her briefing on latest developments in the region. We also appreciate the contribution of representatives of G5 Sahel Joint Force and civil society to this discussion.
Unfortunately, the situation in the Sahel sees little improvement. In this, we fully agree with you. Terrorist activity in the region does not abate, same can be said about acute inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts; which influence the security situation in most negative way. Fighters keep killing people – dozens of military servicemen and hundreds of civilians. Besides, a new and very alarming aspect of destabilization has emerged – growing tensions among regional states which largely have been caused by external interference.
Council members are well aware that Russia has consistently stood for establishment and deployment of G5 Sahel Joint Force since the moment this initiative was first put forward by, what’s important, regional stakeholders. Terrorist threat has no borders and no nationality, therefore combating this threat is a shared priority. We also advocated for enhancing UN support for the Joint Force, which would promote regional solidarity.
We note with regret that due to Western (first of all French) pressure, G5 Sahel encountered challenges that have little to do with the most urgent problems in the area of combating terrorism. On a far-fetched pretext, Mali was refused Presidency in G5 Sahel. Summit of the Joint Force that was scheduled for February, where Bamako was supposed to take lead of the Force, never took place. In light of this fact, Mali's decision to quit G5 Sahel, caused by such confrontational behavior of its neighbors, looks rather logical.
Besides, we must not forget that Mali is still under tough Western economic sanctions and ECOWAS restrictions. Drawdown of French operations in Mali, Barkhane and Takuba, is underway. This is taking place in a situation, when it is extremely difficult for Mali to address urgent problems, of which terrorist threat is the main one. Apparently, the initial expectation was that Malian troops would fail to meet their combat tasks, but as we know, it never happened. While relying on their own capacities and more effective partners, Malian forces attained clear success and were able to unblock a number of settlements. Now they consecutively liberate northern and eastern regions of the country from armed formations.
Instead of creating obstacles, everyone should rather help Malian authorities in the most effective way, while also encouraging them to adopt a balanced approach to crisis settlement, i.a. in terms of recovering constitutional order in the country.
In this regard, we call upon G5 member states to act in a constructive manner and take all measures in order to safeguard their independent unification policy, free from any external dictation. We trust that based on the principle “African solutions to African problems", the states of the Sahel including Mali will be able to agree on further work of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. We do hope that current difficulties will not cause a decline in your counter-terrorism efforts.
Russia, i.a. as a Security Council permanent member, will keep engaging constructively in collective efforts aimed at achieving peace and stability in Sahara-Sahel region; rendering bilateral support to African states in enhancing capacity of their armed forces; training military and law enforcement officers; providing assistance in the humanitarian area, including education and healthcare. At this time, military servicemen from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad are completing their courses at universities of the Russian Ministry of Defense; while members of the Malian police are being trained in educational facilities of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
As a separate point, let me stress that Russia’s bilateral military and technical cooperation with Mali and other African states has a goal of assisting national authorities in the difficult task of combating terrorism and promoting security. This is needed so that ordinary people could feel safe and focus on developing their countries.
Here in the Security Council, Western states again speculate about some mercenaries. But let me remind that from the moment colonialism started to collapse, it has been mercenaries from Western states, including states that are represented at this table, who took part in numerous coups d’état on the African continent, contributed to Apartheid, were involved in plundering natural resources, i.a. with a view to protecting interests of their large businesses. Here is another telling piece of statistics. By most moderate calculations, the list of official Western military interventions in Africa consists of several dozens of entries. Add to this dozens of unrecognized interventions.
Unfortunately, at this point there is neocolonialism that incites states of the Sahel against one another. This must not be happening in the 21st century. We call on Mali’s neighbors to think of their sovereign role in solving the continent’s problems, and also think about the role of those who have got a hidden agenda with regard to Africa.
Right of reply:
Thanks for giving me the floor. As for the national remarks delivered by the United States, I believe I gave a detailed response to them in my main statement today.
Let me comment on the words of the Permanent Representative of Great Britain who spoke about growing food prices in Africa and related negative implications for food security. Indeed, the prices are growing, and there are many reasons for that that emerged long before the Ukrainian crisis even started. What makes the situation so pressing at this moment is sanctions against Russia, imposed by the collective West, first of all under the US pressure. Western states do their best to block deliveries of grain and fertilizers from Russia, curb logistical and financial chains, so that no one can deliver food to countries where hunger may start.
Saying that Russia prevents food deliveries is the height of hypocrisy. Millions of tons of grain are exported from Ukraine by ground transport and through Romanian sea ports. The question is, however, where all this grain is going to and whether it will reach Africa and other regions that have a deficit of it? I really doubt this, because we see how the situation with non-Ukrainian refugees is developing, how the international attention to conflicts in Africa and other regions, as well as humanitarian assistance are decreasing. And also because we see that for Europe and broader West their problems always come first. We hope that these arguments will be taken into consideration, and that countries, including in Africa, will not be misled regarding the aid that they receive. As we heard our colleagues say, they provide this aid in an absolutely selfless manner. But let me assure you that this aid is neither free nor selfless.