Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC briefing on the activities of G5 Sahel Joint Force


We thank Assistant Secretary-General Marta Pobee and Executive Secretary of G5 Sahel Eric Tiare for the briefings. We also followed closely the remarks by Ms. Aïssatou Diouf.

Terrorism ranks among the most acute pan-African problems. In terms of the terrorist threat, the hardest situation is unfolding in the Sahara-Sahel region. Subversive activities of numerous extremist militias that take place against the backdrop of the ongoing internal political and socio-economic crises in the region add to the degradation of the situation. The terrorist "internationale" with a stronghold in the Sahel is proliferating its activities and expanding the geography, which directly threatens the coastal countries of the Gulf of Guinea.

Border areas of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger remain the hotbed of tension. This triangle is where the “Islamic State in the Greater Sahara” (ISGS) and the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims” are most active. The situation is the worst in the Menaka region of Mali, where extremists fight for control over the transportation corridors. It is essential that states of the region continue with security cooperation. On 24 March this year, Niger (that already uses its special taskforces against the ISGS near Hamarat) announced it would take part in the anti-terrorism operations together with Malians. Groups that have signed the Algiers Peace Agreement will also step in.

We see that the situation in other countries of the region is also very serious. Activities of Boko Haram cells and, particularly, ISWAP (“Islamic State – West Africa Province”) exacerbates the already precarious situation even further. The situation in Burkina Faso and Chad remains volatile.

In this regard, we must remind that today’s high level of threats to security and stability in the Sahara-Sahel has been a direct consequence of the forceful intervention of Western states in Libya in 2011 and the ensuing collapse of the Libyan statehood. Attempts by France to stabilize the Sahel did not bear any fruit either. This is why we were not surprised to hear the grudge in the statement by the French representative today. Given their incapacity to improve the situation in the region and their loss of neocolonial positions, the only way out is shifting the responsibility.

Insistent unilateral actions of Paris aimed at a regime change in Bamako, continue to damage the collective African efforts to achieve stability in the Sahara-Sahel. In his recent report that we studied very carefully, the Secretary-General refers to a decision of the European Commission to suspend financing that MINUSMA spent on logistical and operative support to the G5 Sahel.

We understand what stands behind Mali’s withdrawal from the G5 and its Joint Force – the step that decreased significantly the political and military capacity of this alliance. In such circumstances, the approach to counter-terrorism cooperation needs to be reformed, but this has not happened so far.

We are confident that the main role in maintaining peace and security in Sahara-Sahel should be played by the states of the region given effective assistance from the international community. At the same time, we must note that international assistance must proceed from zero-interference in internal affairs, respect for national sovereignty and the principle “African solutions to the African problems”.  Countries of the Sahel must be in full control (actual rather than hypothetical) of the decision-making as regards countering terrorism, because the security situation is a matter of priority for all Sahelian capitals. Whenever a terrorist threat emerges, obvious military response may be given, which demands to react rapidly. If a bilateral agreement between the armed forces of two states appears the most effective, then by all means it should be supported. In this situation, all political and geopolitical considerations shift to the backburner.

The commitment of leading regional associations, the African Union and ECOWAS, to partake in combating terrorist threat in the Sahara-Sahel is very commendable. What’s important now is to move from words to action as quickly as possible. This is exactly what the decision of the ECOWAS summit in Abuja (4 December 2022) is aimed at. The summit called for expedited accumulation of $1 billion for the implementation of the 2020-2024 ECOWAS Action Plan for Eradicating Terrorism. Enhancement of coordination among the peace-sustaining mechanisms that are active in the region is an absolute priority.

Russia will keep participating constructively (i.a. as a UNSC P5 member) in the collective efforts to ensure security in the Sahara-Sahel. We will continue providing bilateral assistance to the states of the region, including assistance with capacity-building of national armed forces, training of military and law enforcement personnel, and humanitarian support.  This cooperation is absolutely legal and very welcome by the countries of the region. At the same time, we are not surprised by the attempts to besmirch Russia’s assistance to Mali and other countries on the African continent. What's more, now it seems to be the leitmotif of American statements in the Security Council, and also the favorite topic of so-called free American media. We do regret however that all this impacts African states, including Mali, that are now exposed to serious challenges in all areas of life, first of all in the area of security.

Unfortunately, Western countries are pulling whatever strings they can, including here at the United Nations. In this respect, we consider the recent OHCHR’s report regarding the developments in Moura in March 2022 as another politically motivated attempt to discredit the Malian efforts in combating extremism. It seems that instead of working together with the government of Mali to clarify the circumstances of the incidents in Moura in an objective and impartial manner, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights did the bidding of some member states who demanded quick results “here and now”.

Of course, this affected the entire OHCHR’s fact-finding process, which was based on evidence by unnamed witnesses and the notorious criterion “beyond a reasonable doubt”. To say nothing of the fact that none of the experts who worked on the report had visited Moura.

I ask our colleagues to study carefully the official comment of the government of Mali regarding the events in Moura. I call to show respect towards the Malians and wait for the results of the national investigation.

On our part, we will keep providing assistance to Bamako without interference in Mali’s internal affairs.

Thank you.


Video of the statement