The Spanish and British defense ministers have said that Russia’s expanding influence and activity in Africa pose a “worrying” threat to the security of NATO countries along with its invasion of Ukraine.
At a joint news conference on Wednesday in Madrid, Spain’s Margarita Robles said the expansion of operations by the Russian state and Russian private security companies such as the Wagner Group in countries like Mali and Libya was “very clear” and accused them of fomenting organized crime and terrorism.
“NATO cannot remain indifferent in this situation,” she added.
The United Kingdom’s Ben Wallace, in Madrid for a bilateral meeting before Spain hosts a crunch NATO summit in late June, said rising instability coupled with hunger in Africa could significantly affect Europe.
“If [Russia] can use migrant flows as a weapon at one end of Europe, they can certainly use it at the other,” he said.
He was referring to allegations by Western governments that in last year’s European Union border crisis, Russia supported ally Belarus in encouraging thousands of migrants fleeing war in other parts of the world to cross towards Poland in retaliation for EU sanctions.
Wallace echoed Robles’s call for NATO to include the defense of its southern flank in its new strategic concept, its basic military doctrine which will be drafted at the Madrid summit.
“NATO’s strategic concept has to involve the whole of NATO, all the territory it covers through its partnership,” he said.