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Faith Nyasuguta

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov(pictured above, left) has pledged increased support to Burkina Faso in combating militant groups, continuing his tour of West Africa. This visit aims to bolster Russian influence in a region traditionally allied with Western nations.

Speaking at a news conference in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, Lavrov emphasized Russia’s commitment to assisting the country. This stop followed his visits to Guinea and the Republic of Congo. Lavrov’s African tour comes as Russia seeks to gain support amidst its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Many African nations have expressed growing dissatisfaction with their Western partners, including France and the United States.

“Russian instructors have been working here and their number will increase,” Lavrov stated, noting that Russia has been aiding in the training of 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 eliminate remaining terrorist groups.”

Lavrov also praised Burkina Faso’s stance on the Ukraine conflict. “We appreciate the objective and fair position of Burkina Faso on the war in Ukraine,” he said. “We are ready to support the just cause of Africans seeking to free themselves from neo-colonial influence.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets Burkina Faso junta leader Capt. Ibrahim Traoré during the Russia-Africa summit in July 2023. /Arab News/

Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation with a population of 20 million, has been plagued by extremist violence for the past eight years. These militant groups, loosely affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State, have contributed to severe instability and humanitarian crises. 

The country has experienced two coups within ten months, the latest leading to the expulsion of French forces and a turn towards Russia for security assistance. Despite these changes, the military junta has struggled to manage the ongoing crises.

The Norwegian Refugee Council recently named Burkina Faso the world’s most neglected crisis for the second consecutive year. A record 6.3 million people, nearly a third of the population, will require humanitarian aid in 2024, with many facing starvation. Approximately two million people are internally displaced, 60% of whom are children, with limited resources available for their recovery.

Jan Egeland, the council’s secretary-general, highlighted the reduction of Western financial aid to Burkina Faso and other Sahel countries, exacerbating the cycle of poverty, violence, and extremism. “The disengagement of the West is diminishing their influence in the region,” Egeland said. “But I haven’t seen Russia aiding our humanitarian efforts or contributing to development programs, so the Russian approach won’t provide the needed relief.”

/Africa Defence Form/

Egeland observed the prevalence of Russian flags in Burkina Faso, contrasting with the absence of European symbols. This visual representation indicates the shifting allegiances in the region.

Later on Wednesday, Lavrov arrived in Chad, another country listed among the world’s most neglected crises.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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