Tag Archives: Russia

France ends assistance to Mali

Brussels 17.11.2022 France has suspended development assistance to Mali after concluding its move to end its 10-year military presence in the country, a foreign ministry source told the AFP news agency.

French mass-media quoted the foreign affairs ministry as announcing it had suspended aid over the “attitude of the Malian junta allied to the Russian Wagner mercenaries”.

The decision was said to have been taken “two to three weeks ago”.

A group of French NGOs are said to have denounced the decision in a letter sent to President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, calling on him to review the position.

According to the NGOs, the suspension of aid jeopardises dozens of development projects that are under way or planned in the country over the coming years.

This suspension comes amid the increasing isolation of Mali.

The UK on Monday said it would withdraw its 300 troops deployed in support of the UN peacekeeping mission there, a decision prompted by the junta’s partnership with the controversial Russian group Wagner.

Algeria applied for BRICS group

Brussels 08.11.2022 Algeria has officially applied to join the BRICS economic group, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The bloc of emerging economies includes Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa.
Foreign Ministry official, Leyla Zarruki, said the North African country has requested membership of the economic bloc, the State radio reported.

Zarruki said Algeria has finalised all necessary measures for membership, without any further details.

In July, Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboun signalled willingness to join the bloc, saying BRICS “attracts Algeria’s attention”.

“Joining this group will take Algeria, the pioneer of the Non-Alignment principle, away from the attraction of the two poles,” he said.

The economies of the five BRICS members, which have more than 40 per cent of the world’s population, account for about a quarter of the world’s gross domestic product.

MEPs condemn Russia Wagner Group

Strasbourg 26.11.2021 The European Parliament adopted a resolution assessing human rights violations committed by the Russian paramilitary paramilitary Wagner Group.

MEPs condemn in the strongest terms the heinous crimes committed by the Russian paramilitary organisation the Wagner Group and related private military entities in various conflict areas.

The Russian state appears to bear responsibility for the funding, training, management and operational command of these paramilitary groups, MEPs say, while pointing out that the Wagner Group’s activities correspond with the spread of Russia’s influence in conflict zones. The Wagner Group, and other Russian-led security contractors, should be treated as proxy organisations of the Russian state, MEPs insist.

The resolution notes that the Wagner Group is present in many conflicts around the world, notably in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Mozambique, Libya, the Central African Republic and Venezuela. Given their track record of violations, MEPs welcome the statement made by EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on the imminent adoption of targeted EU sanctions against “relevant individuals and entities affiliated with the Wagner Group”, as well as individuals and entities working with them. They call for these sanctions to include travel bans and assets freezes on Wagner operatives.

In addition, the resolution urges all countries using the services of the Wagner Group and its affiliates, particularly the Central African Republic, to cut all ties with the group and its employees. It calls on the European Commission to ensure that EU funds cannot, under any circumstances, be used by recipient countries to fund private military companies with such terrible human rights records.

The text was adopted by 585 votes in favour, 40 against and 43 abstentions.

MEPs called for the matter of the activities of the Wagner Group and other private military companies in Africa to be thoroughly discussed during the upcoming EU-Africa Summit.

The Members of the Europarliament are of the opinion that strengthening EU training missions (EUTMs) would more effectively contribute to security sector reform in partner countries; is of the opinion that the swift implementation of the European Peace Facility, in full compliance with the Council Common Position on arms export controls.

Gulf of Guinea: Russian anti-piracy drills

Brussels 13.10.2021 The Russian Northern Fleet task force deployed on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Guinea in the Eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean practised freeing a vessel simulating a situation of being seized by pirates, the Fleet’s press office reported on Wednesday, October 13.

“The crews of the large anti-submarine warfare ship Vice Admiral Kulakov, the medium sea tanker Academic Pashin and the rescue tug Altai held drills for freeing a notional vessel seized by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of the African continent,” the press office said in a statement.

Under the scenario of the drills, the pirates captured a tanker whose crew managed to hide in the vessel’s machinery compartment and send a distress signal. The Russian naval sailors successfully stormed the vessel and freed its crew. A Ka-27PS helicopter that took off from the deck of the anti-submarine warfare ship Vice Admiral Kulakov provided fire support for the drills from the air, the press office said in a statement.

Following the drills for releasing the captured vessel, the crew of the large anti-submarine warfare ship practiced firing a 100mm AK-100 artillery gun and a Kinzhal surface-to-air missile system against the target that simulated the pirates boat.

CAR: France suspends Military cooperation

Paris suspended its military cooperation and budgetary aid to the Central African government, terming the Central African Republic (CAR) “complicit” in an anti-French campaign. (Image: illustration)

The French military ministry said that it considered the Central African state as “complicit” in a Russian-led anti-French campaign.

“On several occasions, the Central African authorities have made commitments that they have not kept, both politically towards the opposition and in terms of their behaviour
towards France, which is the target of a massive disinformation campaign in CAR,” Paris said.

“The Russians are not to blame, but the Central Africans are at best accomplices in this campaign,” it added.

In April, five French military aid workers who were posted to the Central African Defence Ministry were recalled to Paris. The military training provided to the Central African Armed Forces (Faca) by troops stationed in Gabon has also been suspended, the ministry stated, confirming information from the French news website Mediapart.

France, a former colonial power, continues to contribute around 100 soldiers to the European mission EUTM-RCA, which mobilizes nearly 200 soldiers to train the FACA.

Ten of the soldiers do participate in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (Minusca), which has 12,000 blue helmets in the region.

When prompted by AFP on the budgetary restrictions imposed, the French Foreign Ministry however did not reveal any figure.

France, which intervened from 2013 to 2016 through Operation Sangaris to stop the violence, handed over some 1,400 assault rifles to the Faca in December 2018 after obtaining an exemption to the UN embargo.

A few months earlier, Russia had made a remarkable entry into this former French “pré carré” by delivering arms to the Faca at the beginning of 2018 and by installing a contingent of military instructors.

Last December, reportedly Russia urgently dispatched hundreds of paramilitaries to the aid of President Faustin Archange Touadéra’s army, threatened by a rebellion.

Numerous witnesses and NGOs claim that these paramilitaries are fighters from the Russian private security group Wagner, which Moscow continues to deny.

CAR: UN accuses Russians

Brussels 05.05.2021 In the Central African Republic, the brutal methods of the Russian “instructors” who fight alongside the Central African army are giving rise to growing fear and concern. On March 31, the United Nations Working Group on Mercenaries warned of a long series of serious human rights violations attributed to them. RFI had access to many confidential documents and collected words from victims. Investigation.

In Bangui, the presence of Russian mercenaries and the abuses of which they are accused are subjects of which one speaks in low voices, in private, and in anonymity.
“It’s the elephant in the middle of the room,” said a diplomatic source. “We only see him, but we pretend he’s not there.” Officially, they are not here. The Russian narrative on the subject is extremely well established. The Russian ambassador in Bangui acknowledges the dispatch of 535 men whom he describes as “instructors” who “do not take part in the fighting” except “if they are targeted.”

However, many national and international security sources contradict this version. They mention 800 to 2,000 mercenaries deployed in the CAR, alongside the Central African armed forces, often “on the front line” during clashes and also present at checkpoints and strategic locations.
For part of the public, weary of the occupation and violence of armed groups, the Russians are Saviours. They played a decisive role in the counter-offensive which made it possible to retake most of the country’s major cities. Their action is also supported by an active communication campaign from the authorities. Few dissenting voices publicly dare to question their methods, in the climate of fear that has taken hold in certain regions of the country.

On March 31, for the first time, a group of independent experts came to break this silence. In a press release, the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries attached to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, denounces the increased use of private security companies by the authorities in Bangui. And alert on a long list of abuses which are “attributable” to them: “mass summary executions, arbitrary detentions, torture during interrogations, enforced disappearances, forced displacement of civilians, indiscriminate targeting of civilian installations, violations of the right to health and growing attacks on humanitarian actors.”

Three Russian entities are cited in this press release: the “Wagner Group”, considered to be the private armed wing of Moscow, some of whose fighters have recently come under charges for a possible war crime in Syria; “Sewa Security Services”, a company incorporated under Central African law founded in Bangui in 2017 and considered as the subsidiary of Wagner in the country; and finally “Lobaye Invest SARLU”, a mining company founded in the Central African Republic in 2017, one of whose officials has been placed under sanctions by the United States. The Task Force says it has gathered evidence of their “involvement in a series of violent attacks” in the Central African Republic since last December.

Several internal United Nations reports that RFI has consulted support these accusations. One of them lists at least a hundred victims of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed either by the Faca and their Russian allies or by Russian elements alone, between January 1, 2021 and mid-January. April. Among these violations: 26 extrajudicial executions, 5 rapes as well as 27 cases of arbitrary arrests and deprivation of liberty.

“Many civilians have been killed or injured (…) although they are very far from legitimate military targets,” the report concludes.

Among the most affected prefectures: that of Ouaka, north-east of Bangui. Fo two months, Bambari, capital of this prefecture, located 370 kilometers from the capital.

Libya: Putin’s aid under sanctions

The Council today imposed targeted restrictive measures on one person engaged in and providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Libya, including through violations of the UN arms embargo. The sanctions imposed against this person comprise a travel ban and an asset freeze. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed.

Russian citizen Yevgeny Prigozhin participates and helps the activities of the Wagner PMC in Libya, which threatens peace, stability and security in the country. In particular, Wagner is involved in numerous and repeated violations of the arms embargo in Libya, established by the UN Security Council resolution, the EU document reads.

Restrictive measures include a travel ban to the European Union and an asset freeze.

In September, the UN committee of experts on overseeing the observance of sanctions accused 11 companies, including PMC Wagner, reportedly owned by Prigozhin, of violating the arms embargo on Libya. According to experts, in May Wagner company provided 800-1200 mercenaries to help the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar.

The media reports claimed that Russians from Prigozhin’s company are not only training soldiers of the army of LNA Marshal Khalifa Haftar, but also participating in combat operations, and supporting them with logistics. Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin suggested that there might be presence of Russians in Libya, adding that they “do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”

“If there (in Libya) there are Russian citizens, then they do not represent the interests of the Russian state,” Putin said during a press-conference in January 2020. They also “do not receive money from the Russian state,” he added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied the presence of PMC Wagner’s mercenaries in the region. At the same time, Haftar’s LNA admitted that “a small number of Russians” help them with the maintenance of weapons. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke about the presence of Russian fighters in Libya.

In addition to the Wagner PMC, the UN accused 10 more companies that provided logistical support to the LNA of violating the arms embargo. These are airlines registered in Kazakhstan, Syria, Ukraine, Tajikistan, as well as two companies from the UAE.

With this new designation, the EU now has imposed a travel ban on 16 listed individuals and an asset freeze on 20 persons and 19 entities.

The Council remains gravely concerned about the situation in Libya and in particular about the acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Libya, including through violations of the UN arms embargo, human rights abuses and violations as well as the attempted illicit export of petroleum from Libya.

The EU’s sanctions complement and reinforce the sanctions adopted by the UN, which include the UN arms embargo and individual measures, including for human rights abuses.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal.

Recently Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has detained Abdalrahman al-Milad, a coastguard commander sanctioned by the United Nations for alleged human trafficking and migrant smuggling, its interior ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry said it had detained Milad at the request of the U.N. Security Council and that it had referred the case to the public prosecutor to take legal measures against him.

Milad heads a coastguard unit in Zawiya, just west of Tripoli, and was one of six people sanctioned by the U.N. for involvement in people trafficking or smuggling in Libya two years ago.

Nigeria: Russian captain kidnapped

Pirates kidnapped two Russian sailors from the refrigerator ship Water Phoenix, the Embassy of Russian Federation in Nigeria has confirmed. (Image: illustration).

We confirm that two Russians were kidnapped from the ship Water Phoenix as a result of an attack by pirates 30 kilometers away from Lagos on September 8,” the embassy said on its official portal. “In cooperation with Nigerian law enforcement agencies we are exerting efforts to establish the hostages’ whereabouts and secure their release.”

According to the Nigerian portal Nigerian Tribune, the pirates seized the ship’s captain and another member of a crew, while the other 16 sailors managed to lock themselves in a compartment. The entire crew has been formed from 18 sailors – 7 Russians and 11 Filipinos.

The portal Dryad Global, devoted to maritime security matters, said that pirates had attacked the refrigerator ship Water Phoenix under the Liberian flag on the way from the Dutch port of Ijmuiden . At the moment of the attack the vessel was navigating southwest of Lagos. According to the information available it belongs to a company registered in Germany.

The Gulf of Guinea stretching from Senegal in the north to Angola in the south is notorious as the worst piracy ravaged area globally. In the first quarter of this year it accounted for 45% of world piracy incidents.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (“IMB”), the piracy can be defined as “the act of boarding any vessel with intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act”.

Reducing piracy is an ongoing battle, but in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic the situation has aggravated. Previously the Somali waters are perhaps the most well-known location of the modern-day pirates, largely due to headlines generated during the 2000s. Since then, the region has managed to significantly reduce numbers of piracy incidents, in part due to surveillance from the air and sea, and an increased international cooperation between countries’ navies. However, now the Gulf of Guinea has taken the lead. This fall in numbers became a global trend, with incidents of piracy falling worldwide in recent years.

2020 is, however, on course to buck this downward trend. The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 98 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first half of 2020, up from 78 in the first half of 2019.

Libya: Berlin conference impasse

Khalifa Haftar, Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), and head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj have been invited to attend the Berlin conference on Libya set to take place on January 19, German Government spokesperson announced.
“Both have been invited,” she said. “I cannot say anything for sure regarding their participation.”
The conference is “the beginning of the negotiating process under the auspices of the UN,” the spokesperson continued. She noted that it is important to create conditions for Libya to be able to take part in the regulation process on its territory.

The international conference on Libya will take place on January 19 in Berlin. The German government’s press service informed on Tuesday that Russia, the US, China, the UK, Italy, France, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of the Congo, along with representatives of the UN, the EU, the African Union and the Arab League are set to take part in the conference.
During a meeting with Chancellor Merkel on January 11, President Putin said that in order to make the conference meaningful, the participants must be genuinely interested in support of Libyan conflict resolution.

Describing the situation in Libya and perpectives of Berlin process, while addressing the European Parliament the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said: “We need to engage strongly, keep Libya united and find a peaceful solution to this conflict”

At present there is growing scepticim among experts and commentators about the potential of Berlin conference. The failre to sing an agreement between Haftar and al-Sarraj in Moscow is seen as a bad omen.

Image above: Berlin

Borrell: Libya ceasefire essential

“On Libya: recent developments show that the crisis may spiral out of control. Today, we wanted to send a strong signal of unity and engagement. We are in agreement on the need to engage more strongly before it is becoming too late” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell after the meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels.


“Mr Salamé (pictured) has warned us again. He did so in the past, at previous Councils. He insisted on the fact that in Libya there are several risks, and these risks are increasing. First, the terrorism risk. The presence of fighters coming from Syria and also from Sudan is being detected more and more.

*Second, the migration risk. There are almost 700 000 people, according to his figures, coming from sub-Saharan Africa and from other countries. Most of them are working in Libya, not all of them want to go to Europe but some, depending on the situation in Libya may still will want to go because they may lose their jobs depending on the situation.
The third risk is the risk of destabilising the whole region, from Libya spreading wider to the Sahel.

And the fourth risk is a new geopolitical scheme. New actors are appearing in Libya: Russia and Turkey, and the whole geopolitical [situation] in the Central Mediterranean could be changed.
So we have a strong set of reasons to move from rhetoric to action. I have received the mandate to work in order to make our diplomatic outreach [more effective], to reach a political solution in the framework of the Berlin Process.
Hoping that the parties can reach a ceasefire – and we all will contribute to it – and hoping that the Berlin process can reach a political agreement, we will have to focus on monitoring the ceasefire, on controlling the arms embargo and other security measures, based on the experience of Operation Sophia.

“There’ is a strong agreement among [Foreign Affairs] Ministers [of the EU] to ask me to present proposals on these three points to the next Foreign Affairs Council or after an agreement on the ceasefire can be reached.
We are not going to do just an agreement for a ceasefire: if it happens and if there is an agreement – in the framework of the Berlin process, I insist – we will have to take measures in order to contribute to monitor the ceasefire and control the arms embargo.*

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