Dismissing African countries as easy to manipulate is ‘on brand’ for Josep Borrell, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed on Tuesday. He was responding to the EU foreign policy chief’s accusations that Moscow was “spreading misinformation.”
Borrell had addressed EU diplomats earlier in the day, claiming Russia was using “information manipulation and interference” as weapons of war. Noting that Lavrov was visiting Mali and Eritrea, Borrell called them “easy countries” for Moscow to “spread lies about who is guilty for what is happening” in Ukraine.
“So speaks a man who can’t hide the racist essence of his worldview,” Lavrov said when asked about his EU counterpart’s accusations. “Not so long ago he openly spoke about Europe being a garden surrounded by a jungle that threatens it, so the garden needs to be careful with the jungle. That says it all about who actually relates to the needs and interests of African countries, and how.”
“We have nothing to hide or to be ashamed of,” the Russian foreign minister added. “We were at the source of Africa’s liberation from the colonial yoke. The Soviet Union was one of the main initiators of the declaration to grant independence to colonized countries and peoples in 1960. And it was not an imitation, as [former UK PM] Boris Johnson recently called the Minsk agreements, but a real historical act that sealed the end of colonial rule.”
Speaking to EU diplomats, Borrell lamented that some African countries do not support the bloc’s position that Ukraine is fighting “for the values on which we are basing our understanding of the world.”
In his view, the current conflict is not only being fought on the battlefield with troops, but “in the information space, trying to win the hearts and minds of people.” For that purpose, the EU is “protecting freedom of expression” by banning Russian media, while providing support to “independent” outlets that Moscow has designated as foreign agents, he added.
While accusing Russia of spreading disinformation, Borrell apparently did so himself – by saying Eritrea was among the “easy” countries Lavrov was currently targeting. The Russian diplomat actually visited the country last month, along with Angola, Eswatini and South Africa. His current trip includes stops in Mali, Mauritania and Sudan.