Amid Alarm over Mali’s Withdrawal from Regional Security Architecture, Top Peace Official Briefs Security Council on Challenges to Ending Terrorism in Sahel
Terrorism in the Sahel is a slow-burning, mortal threat, a senior United Nations peace operations official told the Security Council today as speakers expressed alarm about the recent departure of Mali from the region’s security architecture.
Briefing the 15-member body on the activities of the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) and United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, highlighted the impact of the 15 May decision by the Malian transition authorities to withdraw from the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force.
Noting that the operationalization of the Joint Force was already suffering due to the uncertain political transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso, she pointed out that the G5 Sahel, whose Heads of State created the Force in 2017 to tackle terrorism head on, has not convened a high-level political meeting since November 2021. Also stressing the importance of upholding human rights, she pointed to the unique challenge of uprooting terrorism in Sahel where terrorist groups are often deeply embedded within communities. If civilians fall victim to counter-terrorism operations, those efforts will only undermine trust in the State, she warned.
Underscoring that the international community, donors and partners have struggled to reach a consensus on the most effective support mechanism for a collective security response in the Sahel, she told the Council that it is time to rethink current approaches. Urging stakeholders to agree on how to best bring the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso to a swift conclusion, she said the countries of the region need to bridge their differences and pursue common security aims.
Also briefing the Council was Eric Tiaré, Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel, who recalled that the Group, based on the shared understanding that no country can combat terrorism alone, was established under the chairmanship of Mali with 55,000 troops. Describing the withdrawal of that country from the G5 Sahel as unfortunate, he underscored the need to pull resources together and pointed to the impact of COVID-19, as well as sanctions. The Joint Force was able to carry out 26 operations since 2019, he noted, adding that it has also established a standard operating procedure to abide by international humanitarian and human rights law.
The Council also heard from Solange Bandiaky-Badji, Coordinator and President of the Rights and Resources Initiative, who cautioned delegates about the dangers of analysing conflict dynamics in the Sahel without considering the impact of climate change. All political stabilization efforts must consider intersecting issues related to environmental degradation, demographic factors, changes in livelihoods and weak governance, she stressed. Foreign and national Governments must move beyond counter-terrorism and divert a greater share of resources towards reconciliation and tangibly improving vulnerable people’s livelihoods, she emphasized.
In the ensuing discussion, several Council members expressed concern over Mali’s departure from the G5 Sahel Joint Force and highlighted the volatile security and humanitarian situation in the region. They also stressed the importance of accountability and upholding human rights standards in the battle against terrorism.
Mali is at the centre of the Sahel crisis, as well as a crucial regional partner, the representative of Ghana, also speaking for Kenya and Gabon, noted. Expressing concern about the country’s decision to further isolate itself by withdrawing from the G5 Sahel Joint Force, he urged its authorities to engage in dialogue and called on G5 Sahel member countries to deal with the political leadership crisis. Acknowledging the funding and logistical challenges that have affected the Joint Force’s effectiveness, he said the Force would benefit from predictable funding, as well as the establishment of a United Nations support office.
Likewise, France’s delegate said creation of such an office would have helped avoid the current difficulties, as lack of support can lead to countries turning to dangerous solutions such as mercenaries. He highlighted the European Union’s support for the G5 and cautioned against arriving at hasty conclusions regarding the G5’s future, noting that the Joint Force was able to conduct operations in the last six months.
The situation in the Sahel “is deteriorating at a rate that defies belief”, Ireland’s delegate said, pointing to the high rates of terrorism, food insecurity and human rights violations. Voicing regret over the Malian transitional authorities’ decision to withdraw from the G5 Sahel, she called for regionally led initiatives, supported by predictable and sustainable funding. Also stressing the importance of respecting human rights and international humanitarian law while tackling terrorism, she stressed: “We simply cannot compromise on basic accountability and standards.”
Echoing the call for civilian rule as soon as possible in Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali, the representative of the United States said the Russian Federation-backed Wagner Group is the newest variable in regional instability. Across Africa, its forces are actively undermining stability, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights, he said, adding that it often targets marginalized groups, exploiting long-standing grievances that fuel violent extremist recruitment.
Along similar lines, the representative of the United Kingdom urged the Malian authorities to end their relationship with the Wagner Group, highlighting its track record of exploiting natural resources and spreading destabilizing disinformation. MINUSMA must have unfettered access to conduct a transparent and independent investigation into allegations that Malian troops, operating alongside Wagner mercenaries, massacred civilians in March, she said.
The Russian Federation’s delegate said that Mali’s decision to withdraw from G5 Sahel, caused by the confrontational behaviour of its neighbours, is logical. Due to Western pressure, especially from France, she said, that country was denied the Group’s presidency, and the February summit of the Joint Force, which it was supposed to chair, was never held. Noting the role of Western mercenaries in multiple coups d’état in Africa, she also pointed to the impact of Western and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sanctions against Mali. Her country will continue to extend bilateral support to African countries to improve their military capabilities, she said.
Mexico’s delegate noted the plethora of new stakeholders in the Sahel and pointed out that the deterioration in security coincides with disruptions in constitutional order in three of the member countries of the G5. That is “not a simple coincidence”, he said, urging the authorities in Chad, Mali and Burkina Faso to re-establish order and work to create the political conditions needed for a stable and prosperous Sahel.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council observed a moment of silence in memory of the United Arab Emirates President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who died on 13 May. Thanking delegates afterwards, the representative of the United Arab Emirates described Sheikh Khalifa as a distinguished leader and visionary man, who inspired his people with his dedication and humility. He was a strong advocate for multilateralism and a true champion of the most vulnerable, she said, highlighting the many strides her country made during his tenure.
Also speaking today were representatives of Albania, Brazil, China, India and Norway.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:54 a.m.
MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) (document S/2022/382), highlighting the devastation in the lives of millions of people in the region, due to the spread of terrorism and insecurity. Expressing regret about the Malian transition authorities’ decision, on 15 May, to withdraw from the Group of Five for the Sahel and its Joint Force, she recalled that the Force was created in 2017 by G5 Heads of State, who decided to tackle terrorism in the Sahel head on. The challenging political and security dynamics and the uncertain outcomes of the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso had already impacted the operationalization of the Force, she said, noting that the G5 has not convened a high-level political meeting since November 2021, while its Defence and Security Committee has not met in over six months.
Acknowledging the efforts of General Bikimo, the Joint Force Commander, she said his leadership was instrumental in enabling the Joint Force to carry out operations in all three of its sectors, even without the participation of the Malian battalions. How Mali’s decision to leave the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force will further impact the organization and dynamics in the region remains to be seen. Reaffirming United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)’s commitment to support the Joint Force, she said it has been working with contractors to deliver life support consumables to the contingents of the Force. Expressing gratitude for the European Union’s continued financial support, she also highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation in the region. Uprooting terrorist groups, who are often deeply enmeshed or embedded within communities is uniquely challenging in the Sahel, she added, noting that if civilians fall victim to such operations, those efforts will also undermine trust in the State.
Stressing the importance of addressing the root causes of poverty and providing opportunities for the region’s youth, she said that in the coming months, stakeholders must come to a consensus on how to best bring the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso to a swift conclusion. The countries of the region will need to come together, bridge their differences, and maintain dialogue to pursue their common security objectives. “It is perhaps time to rethink our approaches and change the way we do our work,” she said, noting that in the last five years, the international community, donors and partners have struggled to reach a consensus on the most effective support mechanism for a collective security response in the Sahel. Stressing that the terrorist onslaught in the Sahel constitutes “a slow-burning, mortal threat” to international peace and security, she highlighted the strategic assessment to be carried out jointly by the African Union Commission and the United Nations Secretariat. This assessment will also focus on innovative ways to mobilize sustainable resourcing for these regional initiatives, she said.
ERIC TIARÉ, Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel, described the withdrawal of Mali from the Group as “unfortunate”, recalling that this subregional cooperation framework was established with two main objectives of improving security and advancing development. G5 Sahel was created based on the shared understanding that no country can combat terrorism alone, he said, stressing the need to pull resources together. He went on to highlight some challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, facing the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which was established under the chairmanship of Mali with 55,000 troops.
Expressing appreciation to the Secretary-General for his support to G5 Sahel and its Joint Force, he said African members of the Security Council have always called for such support to address challenges in the region. In 2021, Council members visited Niger. Noting that a comprehensive assessment of security will be carried out with the participation of G5 Sahel, he stressed that the Joint Force was able to carry out 26 operations since 2019. The Joint Force has established a standard operating procedure to abide by international humanitarian and human rights law. Sanctions are creating further challenges and tensions. The current unprecedented situation with Mali’s withdrawal is posing a challenge to the remaining G5 Sahel members, he cautioned, calling on the United Nations to continue supporting G5 Sahel in its counter-terrorism and development efforts.
SOLANGE BANDIAKY-BADJI, Coordinator and President of the Rights and Resources Initiative/Group, said G5 Sahel countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change risks. Some of the impacts felt across the region include droughts, floods, erratic rainfall, rising temperatures, depletion of natural resources, food and water insecurity, rising disease outbreaks, displacement and migration. In Niger, torrential rains affected over half a million people in 2020 and up to 10 million people are facing starvation due to drought. Climate shocks and chronic food crises in the Sahel region also continue to weaken women’s coping mechanisms and their economic resiliency capacities as they limit access to income and assets.
While it is understood that conflict is driven by the wider historical, socioeconomic and political context including internal factors related to demographic, economic, social, governance and environmental factors, trying to understand the conflict dynamics in vulnerable countries in the Sahel without considering the impact of climate change could result in an incomplete and flawed analysis, she said. Climate change affects the availability, distribution and quality of natural resources, which can escalate conflicts over those resources. Land tenure dynamics need to be a central frame of analysis on conflict in the Sahel. The importance of understanding and implementing rural land tenure and rules for management of natural resources in relation to localized conflict in the Sahel is critical because pressure for land has its greatest impact in areas held under customary tenure, she explained.
Stability will only be achieved if foreign and national Governments can move beyond counter-terrorism and divert a greater share of resources towards reconciliation, dialogue and tangibly improving vulnerable people’s livelihoods, she said. It is also vital to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with the G5 Sahel on climate change and facilitate increased resource mobilization, which should be carried out in collaboration with grass-root communities. It should be understood that this will reduce conflict since competition over resources and environmental degradation are some of the drivers of conflict. It is also imperative to recognize and record local land rights; strengthen capacity for developing effective land management systems; carry out interventions that improve women’s land rights, including legislative reform; and enable herders to access grazing resources through locally negotiated resource management agreements. Stabilization efforts must consider intersecting issues related to environmental degradation, demographic factors, changes in livelihoods and weak governance. Otherwise, they may aggravate and amplify conflicts rather than create pathways to resolution, she warned.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) highlighting the heavy toll taken by terrorism on Sahel’s civilians and local forces, recalled the terrorist attack in Togo last week. Hailing the efforts of the G5 and expressing concern about the decision taken by Mali’s transition authorities to leave the Group, he said this withdrawal weakens the regional security architecture. However, cautioning against arriving at hasty conclusions regarding the G5’s future, he pointed out that despite these difficulties, the G5 Sahel Joint Force was able to conduct operations in the last six months. Highlighting the indispensable role of regional cooperation, especially in conducting cross-border operations, he noted the support of the European Union and MINUSMA and added that the withdrawal of Mali means the suspension of support for Malian battalions. Expressing regret that the Council was unable to reach an agreement on creating a support office for the Joint Force, he said that would have helped avoid the current difficulties. Cautioning that lack of support can lead to countries turning to dangerous solutions such as mercenaries, he said that France will continue to support Sahel countries, through assistance in training and counter-terrorism operations.
ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania) voiced regret over the withdrawal of Mali from the G5 Sahel, describing it as “yet again another step from the Malian authorities to further isolate the country and the Malian people, even from its neighbours”. Noting with concern the severity of the humanitarian and security crises in the Sahel region, she cited undemocratic transitions throughout West Africa, as well as a vast disinformation campaign and shrinking of civil space in Mali as major challenges. Meanwhile, the region’s volatile political situation — particularly in Mali and Burkina Faso — has negatively impacted the effectiveness and the capacity of the G5 Joint Force. She went on to express deep concern about reports of human rights violations, including by Wagner Group forces present in Mali, and urged that all such reports be independently and impartially investigated, and perpetrators held to account. In addition, she voiced regret that the annual Summit of the Heads of States was postponed indefinitely, calling on members to show political will and commitment to addressing the multifaceted challenges facing the Sahel.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) said recent developments in the Sahel demonstrate how lack of progress in the political sphere can hamper efforts to combat violence — which, in turn, makes political solutions to conflict even more elusive. The frustratingly long political transition in Mali contributed to a lack of political understanding in the G5 Sahel and has hampered the activities of its Joint Force. Voicing regret over that country’s withdrawal from the Force, he encouraged all countries of the region to maintain political engagement, including through Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Such political uncertainty means that support from the United Nations, as well as from regional organizations, is of utmost importance. Welcoming efforts by the Secretary-General, the Chairperson of the African Commission and ECOWAS to address the matter, he nevertheless said conditions on the ground are not currently favourable to the creation of a new United Nations office. He also expressed deep concern about the humanitarian and human rights conditions throughout the region, stressing that improvements depend on progress in the political sphere.
ZHANG JUN (China) deplored the current challenges facing the Sahel, describing terrorist attacks in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali as “distressing”. Noting the Secretary-General’s recent visit to West Africa and the Sahel, he urged the international community to respond to the call by the United Nations Secretary-General and increase attention to the region. The Sahel countries must be united in addressing challenges, such as poverty, underdevelopment and the COVID-19 pandemic. No country can tackle these alone, he said, stressing the need for a joint response. Counter-terrorism operations must be scaled up, as terrorism is spreading to the Gulf of Guinea. He urged MINUSMA to continue to provide logistical support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force, and major donors, such as the European Union, to continue increasing financial assistance. Countries adjusting their deployment should take the initiative to communicate better to avoid a security vacuum. It is also urgent to tackle development challenges. All United Nations agencies should perform their respective functions and promote the integrated strategy for the Sahel, he stressed.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India) strongly condemned last week’s terrorist attack on a military outpost in Togo, during which eight soldiers were martyred. Addressing the threat of terrorism is a pre-condition to achieving any meaningful peace in the Sahel region. Mali’s decision to withdraw from all G5 Sahel organs and entities changes the dynamics of the regional efforts in play, which will adversely impact the operations of the Joint Force, coupled with the political uncertainty over transition timelines in Mali and Burkina Faso. The key to peace in Mali lies in a Mali-owned and Mali-led process and one which is seen as inclusive and representative by the people of Mali, he stressed. Pointing out that the G5 Sahel Joint Force is suffering from capacity constraints, such as lack of training, equipment, air assets and logistical support, he reiterated the call for sustainable and predictable support to the Joint Force, noting that his country has a long history of contributing to the defence and security needs of the African continent, including in the Sahel region.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), highlighting the transnational nature of the problems in Sahel, stressed the importance of a consistent shared strategy, given the expansion of extremist activity from central Sahel to the Gulf of Guinea. Even with its operational limitations, the G5 Sahel Joint Force has been a vital component of the regional counter-terrorism architecture. Regretting Mali’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Force, which will limit the scope of activity in the triple-border area, he expressed the hope that the strategic assessment will make it possible to identify future courses of action. Stressing that a clear robust agreement between the region’s countries is vital to enable the Council to discuss how best to boost counter-terrorism in Sahel, he also pointed to the arrival of a plethora of new stakeholders in the Sahel, with diverse strategies and objectives, due to redeployment of international forces. Calling on MINUSMA to prioritize regional cooperation, he expressed concern that the deterioration in security coincides with disruptions in constitutional order in three of the member countries of the G5. This is “not a simple coincidence”, he said, urging the authorities in Chad, Mali and Burkina Faso to re-establish order and work to create the political conditions needed for a stable and prosperous Sahel.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) said the situation in the Sahel is unfortunately not getting better. Her country has consistently advocated the formation and the deployment of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, she said, stressing that the fight against terrorism has no borders and is a priority for all. Moscow also has advocated greater United Nations assistance to the Joint Force, she said, expressing regret that due to Western pressure, especially from France, the G5 Sahel has faced challenges. Mali, under far-fetched pretexts, was denied the Group’s presidency. The February summit of the Joint Force, which Bamako was supposed to chair, was never held. Mali’s decision to withdraw from G5 Sahel, caused by such confrontational behaviour of its neighbours, is logical. Recalling that Western countries and ECOWAS are imposing sanctions against Mali and that Operation Barkhane and Task Force Takuba are drawing down from that country, she said all this is taking place at a time when Bamako is coping with acute problems, including the threat of terrorism. The Russian Federation will continue its constructive participation in collective efforts to achieving peace and stability in the Sahara-Sahel region, and support African countries bilaterally in improving their combat capability and training military and law enforcement personnel. Western mercenaries have, since the collapse of colonialism, participated in multiple coups d’état in Africa, she said, stressing that Africa can determine its own future.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said her country is working to protect the most vulnerable in the Sahel from the impacts of the global food crisis caused by the Russian Federation’s illegal and unjustified aggression against Ukraine. The United Kingdom will provide $72 million in funding for food assistance and humanitarian response across the Sahel over the next three years. Stressing the importance of ensuring that all actors in the Sahel protect and promote human rights and comply with international human rights and humanitarian law, she expressed serious concern over the presence of the Wagner Group in Mali. Allegations of human rights violations and abuses have increased significantly since Wagner deployed to Mali in December 2021. Wagner also has a track record of exploiting natural resources and spreading destabilizing disinformation, she said, urging the Malian authorities to end their relationship with the Wagner Group, in the interests of national and regional stability. The Malian authorities should also allow MINUSMA unfettered access to Moura to conduct a transparent and independent investigation into allegations that Malian troops, operating alongside Wagner mercenaries, massacred civilians in March.
CÁIT MORAN (Ireland) said the people of the Sahel region are grappling with a situation “that is deteriorating at a rate that defies belief”. Citing evidence of high rates of terrorism, food insecurity and human rights violations, she joined others in voicing regret over the Malian transitional authorities’ decision to withdraw from the G5 Sahel — including the Joint Force — while noting that the region’s immense challenges require joint action. Authorities across the region should work with the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union, and no meaningful progress against terrorism can be made without respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, she said, declaring: “We simply cannot compromise on basic accountability and standards.” Moreover, military solutions alone will not suffice. While democratic values and institutions continue to be threatened, human rights violations are dismissed and displacement and food insecurity are allowed to become routine, the cycle of violence will remain unbroken. She therefore called for regionally led initiatives, supported by predictable and sustainable funding, to address long-term peace and stability in the Sahel.
MONA JUUL (Norway) called for efforts to urgently deliver humanitarian aid to people in need, noting that her country has allocated approximately $25 million to humanitarian efforts in the Sahel and Lake Chad region in 2022. She went on to express concern about reports of increasing human rights violations and abuses in Mali and other countries, including those committed by the Wagner Group. Expressing regret about Mali’s decision to withdraw from all the organs and bodies of the G5 Sahel, she welcomed the joint strategic assessment and looked forward to Mahamadou Issoufou, former President of Niger, leading on that issue. New thinking around security in West Africa and the Sahel should take a holistic approach and ensure ownership by countries in the region, she said, stressing the need to confront tougher issues, such as financing and mandates for robust, regionally led operations. She also highlighted the role of MINUSMA as a key stabilizer for Mali and the wider region, calling for serious discussion on innovative, future solutions based on the upcoming joint strategic assessment.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), also speaking on behalf of Kenya and Gabon, stressed that the G5 Joint Force is a critical component of the regional security architecture in the Sahel. Voicing concern that the Joint Force has not been able to deal with the current volatile situation, he acknowledged the funding and logistical challenges that have affected its operational effectiveness. Noting that Mali is at the centre of the crisis, as well as a crucial regional partner, he expressed concern about that country’s decision to further isolate itself from the regional and international community by withdrawing from the Force. Urging member countries to quickly resolve the situation by dealing with the political leadership crisis, he said the high-level political meeting that should have been held since November 2021 must take place as soon as possible.
Commending MINUSMA’s efforts while also acknowledging that the Mission is constrained in its mandate, he said its upcoming renewal must enhance its ability to deal with security challenges. The security situation in Mali cannot be addressed by Malians alone, he stressed, urging that country to re-engage in dialogue. Also underscoring the need to address the political uncertainties in the Sahel, he called on relevant countries to adhere to the transitional timelines and return to constitutional rule. Further, the Council must speak with one voice on the appropriate support mechanism for other regionally led initiatives, he said, including the 2019 summit held by ECOWAS aimed at mobilizing an ECOWAS standby force.
Welcoming the joint strategic assessment, he expressed the hope that it would outline practical approaches to dealing with the security and political situation. Stressing the importance of capacity-building support, he said the Joint Force would also benefit from predictable funding from assessed contributions, as well as the establishment of a United Nations support office. Turning to the surge in terrorist attacks, he highlighted the potential spillover effect of the crisis in Libya including the return of foreign terrorist fighters and influx of small arms from that country into the Sahel region. Calling for an investigation into human rights violations, both by terrorist armed groups and by armed and security forces, he also stressed the importance of supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Force in enhancing its compliance and accountability to international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
LANA NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) stressed the need to strengthen joint action and improve regional and international coordination and cooperation to face challenges in the Sahel region. These challenges require comprehensive political dialogue at the domestic and regional levels to achieve necessary reforms and strengthen the capacities of the region’s political institutions especially in Mali, she said. The response to the deteriorating security situation in the region requires constructive participation from all stakeholders, particularly the Joint Force and its partners, she added, calling on States to continue to combat terrorism and transnational crime with a comprehensive approach that accounts for the specific context in each country. She also stressed that the complexity of crises in the Sahel requires the international community to respond in a coordinated, urgent and comprehensive manner, calling on the Security Council to act to prevent global food insecurity and other spillover effects in the context of current geopolitical crises and tensions.
RICHARD MILLS, JR. (United States), Council President for May, spoke in his national capacity, joining other members in expressing concern over the rising violent extremism, terrorist attacks, intercommunal violence, growing food insecurity and democratic backsliding in the Sahel. “Let’s not sugar coat it: The challenges are acute,” he said. The United States supports the Secretary-General’s call for the authorities in Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali to hand power back to civilian rule as soon as possible. His country has continued its strong bilateral partnership with G5 Sahel to address security threats, providing more than $600 million since 2017 in equipment, training, and advisory support for crucial capacity gaps, as well as nearly $2 billion for development projects and almost $2.2 billion in humanitarian aid. The newest variable in regional instability is the Russian Federation-backed Wagner Group. Across Africa, its forces are actively undermining stability, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights. Wagner has committed egregious human rights abuses — often targeting marginalized groups, exploiting long-standing grievances that fuel violent extremist recruitment. The Wagner Group threatens the safety and the security of United Nations peacekeepers in Mali and the Central African Republic, and it prevents these missions from protecting civilians. The Russian Federation’s disinformation and propaganda efforts continue to deploy false narratives to help protect the Wagner Group from responsibility for its actions, he said.
Ms. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation), responding to the statement by the United Kingdom’s delegate regarding the increase in food prices in Africa, acknowledged that prices are indeed on the rise. The reasons for this hark back to long before the Ukrainian crisis, she said, pointing to the impact of the sanctions that have been introduced by the West under pressure from the United States. Western States are blocking shipments of grain and fertilizer and disrupting logistical and financial chains to prevent her country from supplying food to those countries where hunger could break out, she said, calling it unprecedented hypocrisy. Millions of tons of grain are being shipped out of Ukraine, she said, “but where is this grain going?” Expressing doubt that it will reach Africa and other regions that are experiencing shortages, she called on countries in that continent to not be misled about the selfless help that her country is providing.