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As the organizer of the summit, Spain urges NATO to monitor the southern side

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The Associated Press

AP communication

Joseph Wilson

Spain, Barcelona (AP) — Russia's invasion of Ukraine will undoubtedly dominate the NATO summit in Madrid, but Spain and Other member states will promote a Western alliance to consider how mercenaries, quietly working with Russian President Vladimir Putin, are spreading Moscow's influence to Africa.

As the organizer of the summit, which will be held from Tuesday to Thursday, Spain is NATO's security challenges and tasks.

Strategic concepts are NATO's most important working document after the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, with an attack on one member as an attack on all members. It contained an important clause that it would be considered. The security rating is updated almost every 10 years to reset the Western security agenda.

The current version, approved in Lisbon in 2010, states that the risk of regular war on NATO territory is "low." Concerns about Africa's instability are not explicitly mentioned. At that time, the alliance regarded indifference as the greatest military threat. US complaints that some European members are not paying legitimately were highlighted at the summit talks.

If you fast forward for more than a dozen years, your view will be very different from the NATO headquarters in Brussels. After Russia brought war to NATO's eastern border, the alliance has provided Ukraine with a variety of more powerful weapons and has worked to avoid the very real risk of being involved in combat.

But while Russia remains the primary concern among NATO members heading for the Madrid Summit, the alliance must continue to broaden its horizons globally. There seems to be a consensus that it must be. Spain's position to raise attention to the "South" is shared by the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

In their view, Africa's security challenges stem from Putin, who was clearly stuck in restoring the glory of the Russian empire, and the vast China. Russia is gaining momentum with mercenaries in the Sahel region, a semi-arid region extending from Senegal to Sudan, which suffers from political conflicts, terrorism and drought.

"Every time I meet with the NATO minister, the support of the alliance is complete because of the instability seen in the situation in the South Frontier of the alliance, especially in the current Sahel region," Spain said. Foreign Minister Jose Alvarez said.

The Kremlin denies ties to the Wagner Group, a growing mercenary force in Central Africa, North Africa and the Middle East. Private military companies that also participated in the war in Ukraine have gained a foothold in Libya, Mali, Sudan and the Central African Republic.

In Mali, Wagner soldiers fill the void created by the withdrawal of the former colonial ruler France. In Sudan, a naval base in the Red Sea was promised at the offer of the Russian Economic Union. In the Central African Republic, Wagner fighters protect the country's gold and diamond mines. In return, Putin gets diplomatic allies and resources.

French President Emmanuel Macron has long sought "greater involvement" from NATO in the Sahel region. Now that Wagner has moved to Mali, French officials have emphasized that Wagner mercenaries have been accused of human rights violations in the Central African Republic, Libya and Syria.

Former NATO Secretary Javier Solana said Russia's brutal military operation in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad boldly made it during the long civil war in his country. Said that he did.

"Syria has given (Russians) the feeling that they can be more active in that part of the world," Solana told The Associated Press. "They have a very good relationship with Algeria, and (...) there are delicate Wagner-type people in Sahel."

There is a risk that Sahel, Morocco and Algeria will exacerbate instability. So, "For the southern part of NATO, Portugal, Spain, Greece, etc., they want to look at that part of the world," he said.

Italy is another NATO member that has adapted to the political situation in the Mediterranean. In 2017, NATO's Joint Army Command in Naples opened a South Hub Hub with a particular focus on terrorism, intensification, migration and other security issues originating from North Africa and the Middle East.

NATO's Italian ambassador Francesco Maria Taro said in a May interview with Italian news agency ANSA that the humanitarian crisis in Africa concerns all NATO allies. He said he had to do it.

"There is Africa near us, with a billion inhabitants at risk of poverty, exacerbated by food insecurity, terrorism and climate change. All of these factors The combination creates anxiety, "says Taro. "And Russia is there too."

The importance of the other side of the Mediterranean is the series of diplomatic crises involving Morocco and Algeria and the fate of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara. The conflict over has made it painfully apparent to Spain over the past year.

Due to the reduced security of the border during the conflict, migrants were able to enter Spanish territory and threats to energy supply were recognized. Analysts consider both to be "hybrid warfare" tactics when the government uses them against other countries.

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace, speaking in Madrid last month, encouraged Putin's ally Belarus to cross borders into Poland and other neighboring countries. Mentioned last year's alleged problem.

"If people like Wagner want to get the control they have, or in a place like Libya, or actually already in Mali, Spain Don't expect it to be unaffected, "Wallace said.

NATO is also expected to include references to China's expanding military reach both inside and outside the Pacific War in its new strategic document. "China has joined Russia and is openly vying for the right of each country to choose its own path," Secretary-General Jens Stoltemberg told Madrid last month.

In May, US Army General Stephen J. Townsend, commander of the United States Africa Command, warned that China was trying to build a military naval base on the Atlantic coast of Africa. .. He said China "has the most traction" towards establishing a base in Equatorial Guinea, a small oil-rich dictatorship that was once Spain's only sub-Saharan African colony. Said.

China operates only one recognized foreign military base in Djibouti, East Africa, but many do not have to use the term "base". We believe that the PLA is busy establishing overseas military networks.

NATO has invited leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to the summit to show their interest in the Asia-Pacific.

The Foreign Minister of Mauritania, a former French colony of West Africa, has also been invited to a supper of fellow foreign ministers at the NATO summit. NATO said countries bordering Western Sahara, Algeria, Mali and Senegal are "closely linked to preparatory work" for the new strategic concept.


Madrid AP writer Ciaran Giles, Paris Sylvie Corbet, and Rome Nicole Winfield contributed to this report.