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Russia begins to assist Sahel region states in fighting terrorism

Moscow is concerned over the situation in the Sahara and Sahel region

UNITED NATIONS, October 31. /TASS/. Moscow has begun to assist the law enforcement agencies of the Sahel countries, that have recently formed joint military forces to counter terrorism and organized crime, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said at the UN Security Council’s meeting.

According to the Russian diplomat, Moscow welcomes the establishment of a special counter-terrorism force of the Group of Five Sahel States (G5 Sahel, consisting of Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad), which has been approved by a UN Security Council Resolution. "We believe that this is an appropriate response to the regional challenges based on the ‘African solutions to the African problems’ principle. We are confident that this is the only way to ensure sustainable peace in Africa," the Russian permanent representative stressed.

Nebenzya also said that "in the era of globalization, terrorism has gone global," and the threat "can only be eliminated through the establishment of a broad front, which is what Russia has been calling for." "Besides, our country has begun to assist the law enforcement agencies of the Sahel countries, and we intend to continue such cooperation because building the capacities of national armed forces is important for enhancing the effectiveness of the G5 Sahel joint forces," the Russian UN ambassador pointed out.

He went on to say that Moscow "is concerned over the situation in the Sahara and Sahel region," which had been facing the threat of terrorism. According to Nebenzya, "transnational issues, which particularly include drug and arms trafficking, separatist tendencies, conflicts, as well as humanitarian, social and economic difficulties, further destabilize the situation." Russia’s permanent representative to the UN added that the NATO-backed toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya had catalyzed instability in the region.

The UN Security Council’s ministerial meeting on the situation in the Sahel region was initiated by France. Participants discussed the regional countries’ efforts to fight terrorism and organized crime. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier presented a report containing recommendations concerning the organization’s possible support for the G5 Sahel joint forces. His proposals include providing logistics support to the forces, reconfigurating the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali and its participation in the Sahel countries’ activities. According to Nebenzya, Russia considers it "reasonable to mull over the possibility to gradually increase the UN assistance," starting by the implementation of the latter option.