Russian foreign minister says Burkina Faso asked French military to leave country because they did not meet expectations
When French President Emmanuel Macron accused Russia of being behind Burkina Faso’s decision to ask France’s military to leave the country, he made it clear that Paris considers such interference in other countries’ affairs acceptable and pursues it, Russia’s foreign minister said.
“This is a question of foreign policy principles. We do not interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs,” Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday at a meeting with his Eswatini counterpart Thuli Dladla in the capital Mbabane.
Lavrov recalled that some time ago, the authorities of another African country, Mali, also decided to replace the French military with a Russian private military company.
He said it happened during a UN General Assembly session and he met on its sidelines with the then Foreign Minister of France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, as well as with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, who “were somewhat aggressive” in asking him why Russia was working in Africa.
According to Lavrov, he said Moscow was interested in developing relations with any country willing to interact with it, and to that, the European diplomats told him that “Russia should realize that Africa is a zone of special interest for the EU.”
“Making these neocolonialist statements, the Europeans considered it absolutely normal to work directly on the borders of the Russian Federation,” he noted.
Lavrov added that to his knowledge, several private French military companies are operating in Eurasia.
“This is considered normal, but when a sovereign African state is disappointed with its relations with France and would like to find new partners for resolving urgent problems (including security), they get a response like the one you mentioned from President Macron,” he stressed.
Lavrov then said that France supported terrorist groups in toppling Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and when Libya “turned into a black hole” and its neighbors, including Mali, started suffering from an inflow of both terrorists and weapons, France asked the UN Security Council to support sending a French force to Mali as part of Operation Barkhane.
The minister said the French authorities also asked the council to grant them an additional mandate for countering the very same terrorists they had supported in Libya, “thereby creating a spiral of terrorist violence that continues in Africa to this day.”
“At the time, we supported the French in the UN Security Council because we believed in the need to counter terrorism. But we are not to blame for the fact that the French military in Mali have not lived up to the expectations of this country’s leadership,” he stressed.
Lavrov said he is saddened that most European foreign policy initiatives “remain imbued with a neo-colonial mentality, a neo-colonial logic based on the divide et impera – divide and rule – principle.”
“We stand for having all countries in the West and East work together to come up with constructive solutions to the issues of the Global South, primarily in Africa, instead of using these countries as an avenue for promoting their unilateral confrontational approaches,” he added.
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