Russia Says Algeria Crisis a Consequence of Libya Action

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Algeria’s hostage-taking crisis is a consequence of military intervention by Western powers in nearby Libya.

“We see the uncontrolled proliferation of weapons, the infiltration by insurgents, including of the Sahara region,” Lavrov said at a briefing today in Moscow. “The situation in Mali reflects the consequences of what happened in Libya and the hostage-taking in Algeria was a major warning signal.”

Arms used or procured in Libya’s 2011 revolution have helped to fan a rebellion in nearby Mali and turned up in last week’s assault of a remote gas facility in Algeria that left at least 38 hostages dead, according to French officials.

Russia abstained from a 2011 United Nations Security Council vote that authorized a NATO-led military intervention in Libya. Russia, which accuses the U.S. and its allies of seeking a forced ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, says that would be similar to the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and has vowed to prevent the repeat of such a scenario.

French Stance

While Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supplying Syria’s opposition fighters, the U.S. and European countries have refrained from sending offensive weapons over concern that they will fall into the hands of radical rebel groups. France, which was at the forefront of proposing sending more potent arms, may now reconsider, according to Shashank Joshi, associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

The international community should share a common goal of not permitting secular governments to disappear and extremists to take power, Lavrov said.

“Those with whom the French and Africans are fighting in Mali are the same people who overthrew Qaddafi,” he said. “These are the people who were armed by our Western partners to enable them to oust Qaddafi.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net; Stepan Kravchenko in Moscow at skravchenko@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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