US officials addressed the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, accusing Russian mercenaries of exploiting African resources that are purportedly being used by Moscow to pay the Ukrainian war, an allegation that Russian officials dispute.
The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, alleged that the Wagner Group of mercenaries exploit natural resources and that “these ill-gotten gains are used to fund Moscow’s war machine in Africa, the Middle East, and Ukraine.”
“Make no mistake people across Africa are paying a heavy price for the Wagner Group’s exploitative practices and human rights violations,” said Thomas-Greenfield.
Wagner, staffed by Russian military veterans, has fought in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali, and other nations.
It was established in 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its assistance for pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia expressed displeasure that Thomas-Greenfield brought up the question of “Russian assistance to African partners.”
“This reveals their true objectives and goals – what they truly require from African countries,” Nebenzia remarked, without elaborating.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 happened at a moment of increased rivalry between the West, China, and Russia over Africa’s natural riches, trade, and security relations.
Some countries are concerned about being caught in the crossfire of a fierce geopolitical conflict.
Russia has been attempting to reduce its international isolation since almost three-quarters of the United Nations General Assembly voted to rebuke Moscow and demand that its forces depart within a week after its February 24 invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The 193-member United Nations General Assembly will vote next week on whether to condemn Moscow’s decision to annex four partially occupied areas of Ukraine after conducting what it called referendums.
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