West losing strategic ground to Russia in Sahel, German defense minister says
(Reuters) - The West is losing geopolitical ground in Africa's Sahel region, which is strategically important due to Russia's competing presence there, Germany's Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told parliament on Wednesday.
Pistorius was speaking about Berlin's plans to deploy troops in a European Union military mission in Niger, which is seen as at risk of a possible spillover of violence from neighbouring Mali. The German deployment needs its parliament's approval.
"Despite considerable international support, the security situation there has not improved. Since Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, we have also observed in the Sahel, throughout Africa that the geostrategic, security policy environment has become rougher," he said.
"Russian narratives and offers seem to gain traction here, and the Western community is losing ground here. And the Sahel is and will remain strategically relevant for precisely this reason, especially given the Russian presence in the region."
(Reporting by Matthias Williams; Editing by Madeline Chambers)