Remarks by Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU at the International High Level Conference on Sahel, Brussels, 23 February 2018
Dear Madam Chairperson,
Let me start by expressing appreciation for the initiative of the European Union on organising this High-Level International Conference. I believe it could not have come at a more appropriate moment. The situation in the Sahel as well as in the broader region of Western and Central Africa is a source of concern to all those present and the international community as a whole.
The roots of these problems which include an upsurge of extremism and terrorism are at well-known events of 2011 in Libya, and we all know who was responsible for them. We believe that coordinated efforts by the international community are required to combat those extremist and terrorist activities and welcome the efforts of the G5 Sahel countries to coordinate and organise their response to the current situation.
Of course, all problems cannot be solved only by military means. The spread of extremist ideology should be addressed, meaning that social and economic problems of the region should be addressed.
In practical terms the Russian Federation is working on a bilateral basis with countries of the region, particularly with Mali, having supplied two gunship helicopters last year. Two more will be delivered this year as well as certain light weapons and ammunition to support the effort of Mali and the joint effort of G5 Sahel.
Besides, there is a wide-ranging programme of training African peacekeepers and representatives of law-enforcement agencies of African countries. The Russian Ministry of Interior is organising courses for up to 80 peacekeepers, long and short-term courses for 100 and 300 policemen respectively from countries of the region. Russia welcomes coordination between the G5 Sahel and the United Nations, and my country full-heartedly supported relevant UNSC Resolutions adopted in 2017.