Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov Pledges Increased Support To Burkina Faso Amid Rising Extremist Violence

Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov Pledges Increased Support To Burkina Faso Amid Rising Extremist Violence

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, pledged increased support to Burkina Faso in its fight against militant groups during a news conference in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou, on Wednesday. This statement came during a part of Lavrov’s tour of West Africa, which also included visits to Guinea and the Republic of Congo.

Amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Russia is seeking to bolster its influence in Africa, a region where traditional Western partners like France and the United States are facing growing frustration. “Russian instructors have been working here and their number will increase,” Lavrov said, highlighting Russia’s role in training Burkina Faso’s military and law enforcement personnel. “We have supplied and will continue to supply military equipment to help strengthen Burkina Faso’s defense capability and allow it to eliminate the remaining terrorist groups.”

Lavrov also praised Burkina Faso’s “objective and fair” stance on the Ukraine conflict, expressing Russia’s readiness to support African nations striving to escape “neo-colonial influence.”

Burkina Faso has been severely affected by violence from extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State over the past eight years, as well as fighting between government forces and the militants. The country has experienced two coups within 10 months, the latter leading to a military junta expelling French forces and seeking Russian security assistance. Despite this shift, the junta has struggled to manage the ongoing security and humanitarian crises.

The Norwegian Refugee Council recently named Burkina Faso as topping the list of the world’s most neglected crises for the second consecutive year. A record 6.3 million people, or nearly one-third of the population, will require humanitarian aid in 2024, with many facing starvation. About 2 million people remain internally displaced, 60% of whom are children, and resources to support them are scarce.

The withdrawal of Western financial aid from Burkina Faso and other Sahel countries, was criticised by Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, highlighting the exacerbation of poverty, violence, and extremism.

Egeland said, “The disengagement of the West is bringing them no influence in the region. He noted that while Russian flags are visible in Burkina Faso, Russia has not contributed to humanitarian or development efforts. “I haven’t seen Russia helping us in our humanitarian work or doing development programs, so the Russian approach is not going to bring relief that the people need.”

Melissa Enoch

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