Russia accused Western powers of stoking an insurgency in Mali and Algeria’s hostage-taking crisis through their military intervention in nearby Libya.
“We see the uncontrolled proliferation of weapons, the infiltration by insurgents, including of the Sahara region,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei 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.
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,” the foreign minister said. “These are the people who were armed by our Western partners to enable them to oust Qaddafi.”
Russia won’t help France, which dispatched troops and aircraft earlier this month to halt an advance by Islamic rebels on Mali’s capital, to transport its forces and equipment to the African state, Lavrov said.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Jan. 20 that Russia had made an offer to provide logistical support for France’s campaign in Mali, according to Radio Europe 1.