Spain and Britain call on NATO to examine Russian threat from Africa

MADRID, May 25 (Reuters) – Russia’s growing influence and activity in Africa poses a “worrying” threat to the security of NATO nations with its invasion of Ukraine and must be addressed by the military alliance, the Spanish and British defense ministers said on Wednesday. .

At a joint press conference in Madrid, Spain’s Margarita Robles said the expansion of operations by Russian state and Russian private security companies such as the Wagner Group into countries like Mali and Libya was “very clear” and accused them of fomenting organized crime and terrorism. .

“NATO cannot remain indifferent to this situation,” she added.

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Britain’s Ben Wallace, in Madrid for a bilateral meeting ahead of Spain’s hosting of a NATO summit in late June, said growing instability coupled with hunger in Africa could have a significant impact on the ‘Europe.

“If (Russia) can use migration flows as a weapon at one end of Europe, it can certainly use it at the other,” he said.

He was referring to allegations by Western governments that during last year’s European Union border crisis, Russia supported the Belarusian ally by encouraging thousands of migrants fleeing war in other parts of the world. world to cross to Poland in retaliation for EU sanctions.

Wallace echoed Robles’ call for NATO to include the defense of its southern flank in its new Strategic Concept, its core military doctrine to be drafted at the Madrid summit.

“NATO’s strategic concept must involve the whole of NATO, the whole territory it covers through its partnership,” he said.

“The Russian army is already exhausted, broken, we see it pulling equipment out of retirement. The Russian navy will be more of a threat, Vladimir Putin will use his navy as a means to intimidate his enemies and that means he will be in other parts including the southern flank,” he added.

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Reporting by Aislinn Laing; edited by Andrei Khalip and Jonathan Oatis

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