Tony Blair says West should open new front against Russia in Africa
The former UK prime minister says that tensions with Russia might lead to the West losing its influence in Africa.
Writing for the Telegraph, the UK's former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said that the West needs a “broader strategy” in the fight against Russia in Africa, urging western powers to focus on the continent's "Sahel" as he claims “it will be the source of the next wave of extremism and migration to Europe if we do not coordinate and focus Western policy.”
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The former PM earlier called the West to adopt a "dual strategy" regarding the fight against Russia, suggesting that tough sanctions should be accompanied with more arms to Kiev in order to help the Eastern European country leverage its positions regarding any negotiations to end the war.
However, in his column, Blair is now suggesting a different strategy.
"The West needs a broader strategy to push back not just against Russian aggression in Europe, including support for the brave people and leadership of Moldova, but also, for example, in Africa. It’s a campaign of de-stabilisation, involving large scale disinformation, the malign actions of the Wagner Group, the provision of arms and even the support of coups," Blair wrote in his piece.
The Tony Blair Institute, chaired by the former prime minister, which provides "advisory political support" to at least 17 governments across Africa, said last year that “escalating tensions with Russia” could result in the West losing its influence in the African continent.
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The Institute claimed that Putin sees Africa as a “second frontier, after Eastern Europe, for encircling Western Europe.”
“By framing Russia’s interventions on the continent as the return of an old anti-colonial ally or bulwark against extremism,” it said, “Russia’s intentions become an extension of Putin’s imperialist ambitions."
Russia has been increasingly developing relations with several African countries since 2014, including selling them arms, and establishing security and military ties with some of them.
Read more: US, EU seeking to restore Africa colonial dependence: Russian FM
From February 17 till February 27, about 350 South African army personnel are participating in trilateral maritime drills with Russia and China off the coast of South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal region in the Indian Ocean.
The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) stressed that the war games were meant to "strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia, and China."
Read more: FP: The West lost Africa through 'Cold War-esque' policies, liberalism