Russia's presence in North Africa is increasing - Spain FM

The presence of Russia in North African countries is increasing in a region where political instability and militant activity are spreading, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Tuesday, defending a foreign policy shift towards Africa.

"There is a growing Russian presence in Africa, in North African countries," he told Antena3 TV station in Madrid hours before a NATO summit opened in the Spanish capital.

Spain is shifting its foreign policy towards Africa while lobbying the EU and NATO for support to address migration from the continent, aggravated by the Ukraine invasion, two senior government officials and two diplomatic sources told Reuters. 

Albares said on Tuesday the epicenter of world terrorism is in Sahel, an area with very weak institutions, more and more military juntas, a food crisis and migratory movements.

Spain intends to take advantage of a NATO summit to press its case for the alliance to focus on Africa and is likely to ask for increased intelligence sharing, including on issues related to migration, the diplomats said.

Beside the Sahel region, on the southern fringe of the Sahara desert, Albares said he was not aware Russian troops were based in Algeria, which suspended a friendship treaty with Spain this month over a diplomatic dispute.

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