Africa Tour: Russian FM takes aim at ‘Western objectives’ in Libya, Ukraine

Russia’s top diplomat, now on an Africa tour, took aim Tuesday (4 May) at the West and its supposed “objectives” in Libya and Ukraine, as he also warned that any French military instructors in the latter would be a “legitimate target” for Russian armed forces.

When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso on Tuesday, high on their agenda was mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries and the political crisis in Libya. As the chair of the African Union High-Level Committee on Libya, Sassou-Nguesso seeks to organize an inter-Libyan summit.

Later during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Congo’s top diplomat Jean-Claude Gakosso called for a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine. “In our eyes those who urge to send troops on the ground do not help the peace process, but on the contrary, they put all humanity under the risk of fatal and definitive confrontation,” Gakosso said, adding that “this is not a very responsible position.”

Lavrov also took aim Tuesday at the West and its supposed “objectives” in Ukraine and Libya, blaming the “tragedy” in Libya on “NATO and its members,” adding that “the same thing happened in Iraq and in Afghanistan where the West wanted to impose its version of democracy”. Lavrov asserted that the Congolese leaders share the Russian view that “Ukraine is an instrument of the West, whose objective is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia.” To that end, the Russian top diplomat also warned that the French instructors who were already in Ukrainian territory to train Kyiv’s troops, “regardless of their status,” would be a “legitimate target” for Russian armed forces,

On Wednesday, the Russian foreign minister pledged, at a news conference in Ougadougou, more support to Burkina Faso in fighting militant groups as he pressed his whirlwind tour of West Africa in an attempt to fill a vacuum left by the region’s traditional Western partners.

Russia is seeking to shore up support from the region amid Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A number of African countries in recent years have expressed growing frustration with their traditional Western partners such as France and the United States.

Later Wednesday, Lavrov arrived in Chad, fourth leg of his latest Africa trip, after Guinea, the Republic of Congo, and Burkina Faso.