The European Union is likely to provide financial support for Rwanda’s military deployment to northern Mozambique, the EU’s top military official told the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Hervé Bléjean, the French naval officer who heads up the European Union Military Staff, told the parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence that Rwanda has asked the EU for financial support for its deployment, which began in July 2021.
Rwanda has asked the EU to finance it through the European Peace Facility, Bléjean said — adding that the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, “is determined to respond favourably.” [Watch from 13:58:20 in the video above]
The EU is currently providing training to Mozambique’s military, at two locations in central and southern Mozambique — a considerable distance from where fighting is going on in Cabo Delgado and, of late, in the neighbouring province of Niassa.
Bléjean expressed frustration that his forces are unable to go to Cabo Delgado, calling on European politicians to do what they can to change that policy. “It’s not a very good look,” he said, “for the military who could be accused of being less courageous than others.” It also damages the level of understanding and intelligence that the EU mission has on the ground in Cabo Delgado, he said.
The EU mission is piecing together intelligence from various sources — including from talking to security personnel employed by French energy company TotalEnergies, he said — but “at this stage we are missing eyes and ears [on the ground], and I would like to fix it as soon as possible, so any support in that direction would be very much welcome.”
As well as Rwandan troops, a number of countries from the Southern Africa Development Community have troops on the ground in Cabo Delgado, including South Africa, who recently lost one soldier in action, and Lesotho, whose finance minister expressed doubts this week that the country could continue to finance its deployment to Mozambique.
Rwanda’s involvement is set to expand into a training mission as well, Bléjean told the committee, something that “confirms the need for coordination between the EU training mission in Mozambique, and the Rwandan forces.”
He also warned the committee of the potential growing influence of Russia — noting that in a message to Russian president Vladimir Putin on the occasion of the Orthodox New Year, Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi had talked about renewed cooperation with Russia in the security sector. “So, caution,” Bléjean said.
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