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Fighting Piracy, Maritime Cooperation Likely to Be Discussed at Russia–Africa Summit: Ex-Diplomat

© AFP 2023 / PIUS UTOMI EKPEINigerian special forces sail to intercept pirates during a joint exercise between Nigerian and Moroccan naval personels as part of Obangame Express, a multinational maritime exercise involving 33 countries off the coast of Lagos on March 20, 2019
Nigerian special forces sail to intercept pirates during a joint exercise between Nigerian and Moroccan naval personels as part of Obangame Express, a multinational maritime exercise involving 33 countries off the coast of Lagos on March 20, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.03.2023
Recently, pirates seized a Liberian-flagged tanker with 16 crew members on board belonging to the Danish company Monjasa in the Gulf of Guinea. The tanker was attacked and boarded on March 25, 225 kilometers from the port of Pointe Noire in the Republic of the Congo.
The case of the seizure of a Danish tanker, which occurred on March 25, near the Congolese port of Pointe Noire, indicates that navigation is not safe there yet, Sergey Nenashev, ex-Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Rep.Congo and Angola, expert on modern challenges and threats in Africa at the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, tells Sputnik, adding that the zone of piracy activities is widening in the region.

"I think that the coast of Nigeria and nearby countries is suffering a lot first of all," Nenashev says. "Nevertheless, since the latest incident occurred in Pointe Noire in the Republic of the Congo, you can see that the area of this piracy is expanding."

According to the expert, the hotbed of piracy has moved from the area of Somalia to the Gulf of Guinea, with piracy on the high seas reaching its peak between 2010-2011.

"If we talk about the continent as a whole, then basically now the center of piracy has moved to the Gulf of Guinea," the expert outlines. "Piracy in the region of Somalia, which raged somewhere else in 2008-2010-2011, has almost come to naught. In the Gulf of Guinea, the peak of piracy activity occurred somewhere in 2010-11."

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In addition, Nenashev stresses that non-African countries can use pirates to block trade routes to certain African countries to tighten up pressure on them.

"Sea transportation in the world provides 80% of cargo transportation within the framework of import-export operations, in Africa this percentage reaches 90%. Imagine some African country that exports oil and for which it is the main source. If it is blocked [the way for exports], it will be a certain lever of economic pressure on the government [...] in order to achieve the desired political results," the expert notes.

He spotlighted that it was possible to significantly reduce the number of these illegal actions, primarily thanks to the contribution made by African countries.
The expert also stresses Russia's significant contribution to the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

"It is necessary to consider not only the assistance that comes from Russia within the framework of international organizations, but also the assistance that has been provided to a number of African countries with which we have relevant bilateral agreements on military-technical cooperation," Nenashev says. "This includes training personnel, including personnel for the naval forces of African countries."

Nenashev stresses that African countries are eager to promote cooperation with Russia in the anti-piracy field, while the so-called "collective West" impedes that interaction via sanctions.
The expert has also notes that the issue of maritime cooperation may be considered at the upcoming Russian-African summit, which is to be held in late July in St. Petersburg.
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Russia has been vigorously fighting against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. In October 2021, footage of a crew from the Russian warship Vice Admiral Kulakov rescuing the container ship Lucia from African pirates in the Gulf of Guinea spread around the world. Prior to that, Russian sailors practiced conducting similar operations off the coast of Africa in training activities.
Recently, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, Vladimir Dzhabarov, during the 2nd International Parliamentary Conference "Russia — Africa", which was held at the State Duma, on March 19, said that Moscow was increasing financial assistance to coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea from the country's annual voluntary contribution to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, so that these countries could equip their naval power structures.
According to the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), among the 90 global incidents of piracy and armed robbery reported between January and September 2022, 13 were registered in the Gulf of Guinea region, compared with 27 for the same period in 2021. The reduction in the number of reported incidents in West African waters is likely to be short-lived if the international community does not increase its attention to the region, GCSP states.
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