Central African Republic
Comment by the Information and Press Department in response to a question from Reuters News Agency regarding Russia’s relations with Africa and the CAR
The tenets of Russia’s policy towards African countries are set forth in the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation approved by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2016. Specifically, it stipulates that “Russia will expand multidimensional interaction with African States both in bilateral and multilateral settings by improving political dialogue and promoting mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, stepping up comprehensive cooperation that serves common interests, contribute to preventing regional conflicts and crisis situations, as well as facilitate post-conflict settlement in Africa.”
Alongside political, trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation, the Russian Federation provides multi-faceted assistance to its African partners in settling internal conflicts and fighting the terrorist threat, which has been gaining momentum on the African continent in the wake of the well-known changes in Libya. The instruments that are used to this effect comprise political and diplomatic methods, including Russia’s capabilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, as well as military-technical cooperation. In doing so, Russia acts within the strict limits imposed by international law and based on the corresponding UN Security Council resolutions.
Regarding military cooperation with African countries, it is important to note the growing popularity of the International Military-Technical Forum and the International Army Games, which are regularly held in Russia. Every year, there are more and more participants from African countries and beyond.
Russia has military-technical cooperation programmes with a number of African countries, and helps them equip national military forces with modern weaponry. Special emphasis is placed on assistance in creating mission-capable army units that can effectively counter terrorist groups operating in many African regions. As has already been said, all these undertakings are carried out in keeping with the applicable international norms and rules.
Russia promotes a comprehensive policy to strengthen relations with African countries in various spheres, including through mutually beneficial trade, economic and investment partnerships. Cooperation in developing mineral resources is an important component of these efforts. Russian economic operators have been actively involved with African countries lately with joint projects in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa. However, this is only one aspect of trade and economic cooperation. Other promising areas include high technology, infrastructure construction, agriculture and energy.
We strongly believe that the key to resolving the multiple problems Africa is facing is not competition but broad and multilateral partnership, primarily catering to the interests of the Africans themselves. So far, it has to be recognised that Western European Countries and the United States are not ready to interact along these lines and view others operating in Africa merely as competitors.
The Russian Federation closely follows developments in African countries and contributes to shaping the strategic course of the international community towards Africa, as well as practical measures to strengthen peace and stability. This approach applies to the Central African region.
Taking into consideration the currently challenging situation in the Central African Republic, its President Faustin-Archange Touadera asked Russia for assistance in strengthening the country’s national armed forces and security services. Guided by the traditional friendship and cooperation between Moscow and Bangui, Russia decided to provide its partners military-technical assistance for free, while acting strictly in keeping with the requirements under the sanctions regime established by the UN Security Council. In late January and early February 2018, a shipment of firearms and munitions was delivered to the country, and 175 Russian instructors were assigned to train the CAR military, with the consent of the UN Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic. More than 1,000 members of the Central African military have been trained so far. We remain committed to providing Bangui with the necessary assistance in restoring its national armed forces, and intend to send 60 more instructors to CAR and a second shipment of military products, upon informing the relevant UN Security Council Committee.
The Russian Federation seeks to use the available opportunities to facilitate the negotiating process in the CAR in order to find ways to overcome the protracted crisis in that African country. On August 27-28, 2018, Khartoum hosted talks chaired by the President of the Republic of the Sudan Omar al-Bashir, also attended by Russian mediators, between the leaders of major Central African armed groups to find ways out of the country’s internal crisis. These contacts resulted in the signing of the Khartoum Declaration, which clearly stipulates the adherence to the initiative of the African Union to establish peace and promote reconciliation in the CAR, as well as the readiness of the opposition to engage in a peace process with the central government. It has to be emphasised that the assistance provided by Russia is consistent with the efforts to steer the crisis situations on the African continent out of the deadlock according to the African Solutions to African Problems principle as articulated by the African Union.
We understand that Russia’s assistance to the Central African Republic has been closely followed internationally. Some countries seem to resent Russia’s involvement in the Central African settlement. This position is counterproductive, especially in the current situation, when the Central African “field” needs like never before that all international “players” work together for stability in this long-suffering nation, instead of pursuing competition and zero-sum games. Russia hopes that our partners adopt an adequate view of the military and political situation in the CAR and renounce far-fetched pretexts designed to artificially slow down the strengthening of the country’s security forces. In this connection, we express hope that the United States reviews its approaches preventing the approval of Russia’s application to the UN Security Council Committee 2127 on the delivery of the second shipment of military goods to the CAR. This will help the legitimate CAR government to continue its efforts to restore control over the entire country in the interests of lasting peace and security in this African country.