Sergey Lavrov in West Africa

13:14 05.06.2024 •

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's trip to West Africa continues.

Foreign Minister Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francophonie and Congolese Abroad of the Republic of the Congo Jean-Claude Gakosso (photo) following talks, Oyo, Republic of the Congo, June 4, 2024:

“Ladies and gentlemen,

I held fairly long talks with my counterpart Jean-Claude Gakosso and President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso today.

We noted the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations which were established in March 1964. Since then, our ties have invariably relied on friendship between the people of the Russian Federation and the people of the Republic of the Congo, as well as mutual respect and benefit.

We maintain a multifaceted political dialogue. In 2023, President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso took part in the second Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg, and had a separate meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

We reviewed the schedule of upcoming meetings, including at the high and top levels. We reaffirmed the importance of thorough preparations for the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Trade Cooperation which will be held in Moscow this year. We have prioritised areas to focus on during preparations.

We will continue intensive military and military-technical cooperation in the interest of strengthening the defence capability of the Republic of the Congo which fact President Denis Sassou Nguesso has confirmed.

Humanitarian cooperation is developing fast. Every year, the Russian Government allocates 250 scholarships for Congolese students which is one of the highest figures for Africa.

We are grateful to the Congolese leaders for supporting the Russian Cultural Centre in Congo and the Russian language courses, which enjoy great demand among the citizens of the Republic.

Cooperation in healthcare is gaining momentum. A joint Russian-Congolese laboratory for detecting and preventing infectious diseases will be set up in Congo soon.

Our approaches to most international and regional issues overlap. The Republic of the Congo co-sponsored a number of our draft resolutions at the UN General Assembly and traditionally supports our other initiatives. In turn, we stand behind the approaches that the Republic of Congo promotes at multilateral forums.

We have highlighted the important role of the President of the Republic of the Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, as Chairperson of the African Union High-Level Committee on Libya. We support the proposals that he comes up with in this context, primarily from the point of view of providing a common platform that can be used to unite all political forces in Libya without exception in order to hold general elections.

We covered the situation in other parts of Africa, including the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahara-Sahel region, and West Africa.

Russia has consistently advocated resolving these crises relying primarily on the opinions and initiatives of the Africans themselves, with the international community and external players helping them realise the African approaches.

We agreed to continue our coordination at the United Nations, where the Russian Federation and the Republic of the Congo speak from the position of respect for all principles of the Charter of the United Nations in their totality and interrelation, rather than selectively and from time to time.

We appreciate the Republic of the Congo taking an objective and balanced view on the Ukraine-related events. President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso shows full understanding for the steps we have been taking. He advocates a fair settlement, based on the prevailing realities, which is something we always emphasise.

The United Russia party and the Congolese Labour Party have well-established political contacts. Last February, Congolese representatives participated in the International Forum of Campaigners Against Modern Practices of Neo-Colonialism hosted by United Russia. An international movement For Freedom of Nations was inaugurated at the forum, providing a new cooperation track between Russia and the Republic of the Congo.

I would like to express my gratitude to my colleague and friend, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Congo, for his hospitality. I invited Mr. Jean-Claude Gakosso to visit Russia. He said he would certainly make a return visit.”

Question: Have you discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict during the talks? What approach does the Republic of Congo take on Ukraine and does it coincide with Russia’s stance? Does the Republic of the Congo plan to participate in the upcoming “peace summit” in Switzerland?

Sergey Lavrov: As I said in my opening remarks, we have briefly touched upon this issue. President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso takes a fair and honest stance on Ukraine. As during our previous meetings as well as his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he showed respect for our point of view and an understanding of the reasons that made us launch the special military operation. He is also perfectly aware of Ukraine being a tool the West is using to inflict a “strategic defeat” on the Russian Federation, which is the Western countries’ intention according to their officials’ statements. President Sassou Nguesso is of the opinion that the only way to resolve this problem is through direct and candid dialogue between Russia and the West, primarily the United States, based on a recognition of the causes of the conflict and the current realities.

We have reaffirmed that the choice of the populations of Donbass and Novorossiya and the blatant discrimination against the Russian language in Ukraine are among the realities that absolutely must be taken into account. The West is stubbornly refusing to notice the laws adopted by the Kiev regime, first under Poroshenko and now under Zelensky, banning the use of Russian in every conceivable aspect of society.

In much the same way, the West refuses to notice the Ukrainian laws and its leadership’s steps to glorify Nazi criminals, in particular Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich, whose birthdays have been declared national holidays. This is flagrant disregard for the Nuremberg Tribunal verdicts.

This indicates that at this stage, the West actually prefers just such a Nazi state of Ukraine posing a constant threat to the Russian Federation, to our influence on the regions that were developed by Russian people for centuries. President Sassou Nguesso, like the overwhelming majority of the Global Majority leaders, including China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, is certain that any negotiations excluding the Russian Federation will be pointless. The conference in Switzerland (we have said this repeatedly, and every unbiased politician understands this) serves no purpose except to try and support the collapsing anti-Russia bloc.

Question: Foreign media say that French instructors will soon be sent to Ukraine. Does the Foreign Ministry have anything to say to Paris about this?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the French instructors, I have reasons to think (there are many specific facts) that they are already active in Ukraine. Regardless of whether they are French Army service personnel or just mercenaries, they are an absolutely legitimate target for the Russian Armed Forces.

Question: Former UN inspector and now columnist Scott Ritter was forced off a plane at the New York airport as he was heading to Russia. According to him, CBP officers confiscated his passport, citing US State Department’s orders. Thus, Scott Ritter will not be able to come to Russia to take part in SPIEF 2024. How do you assess this step? What will the Russian Foreign Ministry do about this?

Sergey Lavrov: Scott Ritter is not a Russian citizen. At least, he did not apply for Russian citizenship. Therefore, from a legal point of view, we cannot do anything. But our assessment is not difficult to guess.

This is another example (in addition to many) confirming that the United States, which calls itself the leader of the “world democracy,” has long ago become a police state.

Question (retranslated from French): You came on a visit two years ago. As I understood from your opening remarks, the main topics you discussed remained the same: the conflict in Ukraine and cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of the Congo. However, I am interested in what is happening in Libya. How does Russia assess the developments there? How can it help solve this conflict?

Sergey Lavrov: Our assessments are well-known. The current situation is a tragedy for the Libyans. It was engineered. It began in 2011, when the West, represented above all by NATO’s European members, with support of the Barack Obama Administration, destroyed Libyan statehood in violation of all norms of international law, including the relevant Security Council resolutions on the Libyan settlement.

Please recall how the Libyans used to live under Muammar Gaddafi. The West did not like that they used to live well, but without any Western democracy. They destroyed the country and destroyed Muammar Gaddafi.

The West did the same in Iraq. Like in Afghanistan, problems, which have not been settled until today, started there after the West interfered and began to impose its democracy. Sometimes these problems got even aggravated.

Libya’s main task today is to ensure that all political forces, without exception, unite and develop a common approach to rebuilding their country under new conditions, an approach to restoring statehood. This is the approach promoted by the African Union and personally by President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, as Chairperson of the African Union High-Level Committee on Libya.

We fully support President Sassou Nguesso’s initiative to prepare a truly all-Libyan conference and will use our contacts with various Libyan forces in order to unite them on this platform.

Question (addressed to Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Congo): My question is about Russian-Ukrainian relations. The crisis is going on. We know that Africa offered intermediary services and its solutions. Is the offer of these services still valid? If yes, then what proposals can the Congo make in this respect?

Sergey Lavrov: A couple of words, if I may. While Jean-Claude was answering, Scott Ritter was reported to be going to file a suit over violation of his constitutional rights and continue to pursue his right to travel to the countries where he wants to.

One more fact for your “piggy bank.” Former Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano was removed from the plane, which was also flying to Russia.

While I was replying to you another piece of news came in: posters calling on French servicemen to surrender have appeared near the French Embassy in Moscow.

I want to draw your attention to a systemic problem. Now France Press and BBC Africa asked us questions. You work here, you can do it in any country. And your colleagues from Russia have been banned practically in the entire European Union. Blacklisting journalists and entire agencies continues.

Draw conclusions where there is democracy, where there is a police state, where who is or is not allowed on an airplane. Where someone is allowed to say what he or she wants to say.

It’s a pleasure to be in a free country named the Republic of the Congo!

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and Burkinabe Abroad of Burkina Faso Karamoko Jean-Marie Traoré.
Photo: MFA

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, on his first visit to the country as part of his tour around Africa.

Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and Burkinabe Abroad of Burkina Faso Karamoko Jean-Marie Traoré, Ouagadougou, June 4:

“Mr Minister,

Dear friend,

My delegation and I are grateful for a warm welcome. We feel at home among friends.

Our relations are growing, largely due to the agreements reached during a meeting of our presidents, Vladimir Putin and Captain Ibrahim Traoré, at the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit last year.

We are grateful for your efficient assistance in finding solutions that helped us reopen our embassy in Ouagadougou. We are implementing a programme aimed at resuming the operation of Russian diplomatic offices in Africa. Burkina Faso was the first country where we accomplished this quickly and effectively.

Our relations have a positive history. They are based on mutual sympathy, trust and mutual respect. We maintain active contacts at all levels. Apart from our presidents’ meetings in St Petersburg last year, the head of Burkina Faso’s interim government, the chairman of its transitional legislative assembly, and other officials and delegations have made working visits to Russia.

The State Duma of the Russian Federation has a group dedicated to interacting with Burkina Faso and other African countries. Members of the State Duma Dmitry Savelyev and Alexey Chepa, who are present here, are actively working to implement the projects of the People’s Diplomacy Centre. That NGO played a crucial role in establishing the Russian House here, which offers Russian language courses. It will continue to promote our rapprochement and the education of new government members and ministry personnel who are “Russian,” as you said.

I am confident that our talks today and tomorrow will help us elaborate on the tasks set by our presidents in June 2023 in St Petersburg and will also give fresh impetus to the friendly ties between Russia and Burkina Faso.”


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