The Mediterranean Crisis: Russia Criticizes the EU's Handling of Migrant Issues

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, has pointed fingers at the European Union (EU) for their approach.

by Faruk Imamovic
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The Mediterranean Crisis: Russia Criticizes the EU's Handling of Migrant Issues
© Getty Images News/Michael M. Santiago

Amidst growing concerns over the state of migrants trying to make their way into Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, has pointed fingers at the European Union (EU) for their approach.

Speaking at a UN Security Council briefing, he cited the Mediterranean as the "world's most dangerous migration route," alluding to the fact that the EU's efforts are lacking, if not counterproductive.

A Controversial 'Naval Blockade'

Nebenzya raised questions regarding the measures the EU is taking under Operation IRINI.

This is especially relevant given reports suggesting that the majority of migrants and refugees are either rescued or intercepted by organizations about which little is known. "The intention to strengthen and expand the scope of so-called naval operations in the Mediterranean...

[has] already been dubbed a 'naval blockade' by journalists and human rights activists," Nebenzya stated. He further suggested that the EU seems to be engaging in an "undeclared war on migrants", pointing out that countless lives are lost due to a lack of safe migration alternatives.

Tragedies at Sea: Whose Responsibility?

The Russian diplomat didn't hold back in listing a series of tragedies that occurred off the coasts of Greece and Italy earlier this year, which resulted in the tragic loss of numerous lives.

He emphasized that these deaths might have been preventable had timely aid been rendered. Nebenzya critically noted that the EU does not prioritize the rescue of these individuals. Going further, he mentioned instances where EU member states have not only neglected to provide aid but have also actively prevented others from intervening.

Such measures, he pointed out, have sometimes resulted in criminal prosecution under charges of human trafficking. Drawing from the Secretary-General's report, Nebenzya added that some EU courts appear to intentionally push distressed vessels out of their jurisdiction, leading to tragic outcomes.

"They do everything they can to protect their ‘blossoming garden’ from guests from the jungle, as [EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy] Mr. [Josep] Borrell puts it," Nebenzya commented.

The Root Cause?

Lastly, Nebenzya took a broader view, attributing the current migration influx to the alleged interference by Western nations in the affairs of Middle Eastern and North African countries. "The mass exodus...

is the result of irresponsible and thoughtless interference... to destabilize [countries] and forcibly change unwanted governments. It is those countries who bear the main responsibility for the consequences," he concluded. As the global community grapples with the migrant crisis, these strong words from Russia underline the complexities and varied perspectives on this humanitarian issue.

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