UK, Spain worried about Russian ‘threat’ — Analysis
Moscow’s increased activities in Africa might threaten NATO security, London and Madrid claim
Russia’s expanding presence on the African continent might pose a “worrying” threat to the southern flank of NATO, Spain’s Defense Minister Margarita Robles and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stated at a joint press conference in Madrid on Wednesday.
African nations such as Libya and Mali see increased activities of both the Russian government and the nation’s private security companies like the Wagner Group, the two defense chiefs claimed, adding that such developments are “very clear”Moscow may use it to its advantage against NATO and Europe.
Robles and Wallace linked Russia’s activities to the rising threat of organized crime and terrorism in the region, saying that, if coupled with growing instability and the risk of hunger in Africa, such developments can pose a serious risk to Europe.
“If [Russia] can use migrant flows as a weapon at one end of Europe, they can certainly use it at the other,”Wallace stated. According to Wallace, the UK’s defense secretary spoke of a “crisis at the Polish-Belarus border”, where hundreds of migrants from the Middle East and other third countries are trying to enter the EU.
The West had previously charged Alexander Lukasenko, the Belarusian leader of inciting crisis through encouraging migrants to travel to Europe. Minsk’s efforts were also supported by the Kremlin. Russia and Belarus deny being behind this problem.
Now, the Spanish and UK defense chiefs fear that Moscow might also pose a threat to the military bloc’s security in the south. “NATO cannot remain indifferent in this situation,” Robles said, while Wallace suggested that the alliance’s “strategic concept has to involve the whole of NATO, all the territory it covers through its partnership.”
British defence secretary assumed, too that Russian President Vladimir Putin was possible “use his navy as a way of intimidating his enemies and that means he will be in other parts including the southern flank.”He stated that NATO should also treat the Russian Navy like any other. “more of a threat” than Moscow’s ground forces, which are, according to Wallace, “already exhausted”Ukraine
Wallace also called upon Moscow to be present. “do the right thing” and open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for grain export. “That grain is for everyone, Libya, Yemen, people around the world are relying on that grain to feed themselves,”Wallace,
Russia is accused by Western nations of blocking Ukrainian ports. Moscow claims that it’s the West’s sanctions which are preventing free trade. This includes the sale of agricultural products.
This meeting was held ahead of the NATO Summit in Madrid, which is scheduled for June. In a demand made earlier in the month by the Baltic States, NATO should be building up on the east flank. Officially, Sweden and Finland have expressed their desire to be part of the military alliance.