The Deputy Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, Anna Evstigneeva, accused Western countries of destroying Libya to strip it of its resources, in a response to what she described as "Western attempts to discredit its aid to African countries."
In a press conference held Tuesday night at United Nations headquarters in New York, the Russian diplomat expressed her rejection of "any baseless speculation that would stain Russian assistance to Mali and other countries on the continent".
Evstigneeva responded to the accusations by recalling Western involvement in the deterioration of the Libyan situation, saying, "in order to strip Libya of its resources, these countries did not stop at destroying the country and destabilizing the entire Sahel region."
"So when they accuse Russia, they simply make a mockery of common sense and the ability of African countries to adequately assess the real causes of their problems and choose who to cooperate with," she added.
On Tuesday, the United States accused Russian military contractors backed by the Kremlin of interfering in the internal affairs of African countries and “increasing the likelihood that violent extremism will grow” in the Sahel region which is facing increasing attacks and deteriorating security -- an allegation Russia denied.
U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Mills lashed out at the Wagner Group at a U.N. Security Council meeting on West Africa and the Sahel, accusing its paramilitary forces of failing to address the extremist threat, robbing countries of their resources, committing human rights abuses, and endangering the safety and security of U.N. peacekeepers and staff.
France’s political counselor Isis Jaraud-Darnault echoed Mills, saying “the model” used by Wagner mercenaries has proven “totally ineffective in combating terrorism.” She cited the “nefarious” and devastating impact of its work and human rights violations, including the alleged killing of over 300 civilians in Mali, and its pillaging of natural resources.
Britain’s deputy U.N. ambassador James Kariuki cited the deterioration of security especially in Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, and the fear of instability spreading to West African coastal countries. “You cannot ignore the destabilizing role the Wagner Group plays in the region. They are part of the problem, not the solution,” he told the council.