Briefing: how Russia and others are exploiting global crises

Climate impacts, famine, displacement of people and terrorist groups exacerbate instability and push countries to brink of failure as functioning states.

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By George Smeeton

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A media briefing today heard from experts about how Russia and other powers are preying on instability on Europe’s doorstep to help undermine international co-operation and collaboration on the inter-connected crises currently facing the world.

A recording of the briefing is available here.

Additional quotes from the speakers are below:

Camilla Toulmin, former Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Africa expert, said:

“Countries worst affected by climate impacts are too often those least able to bear the costs. We know developing, climate vulnerable nations need help from the wealthy, developed world – to invest in climate solutions, adaptation and ways to address the heavy loss and damage caused by worsening impacts. But if it’s not on offer, then who do those nations turn to? In west and central Africa, some of the most unstable states are turning to Russia, to its military support, and to its mercenaries. If the UK were investing in these countries, helping build energy systems and creating prosperity, we’d not only be locking in benefits for British companies who could build what is needed for Africa’s clean transition. We’d also be building stability and security for the future.”

Sir Laurie Bristow, former UK Ambassador to Russia and Afghanistan and Russia expert, said:

“British diplomats and the UK’s global network of experts are respected around the world. They work hard in some of the poorest and most unstable regions on our planet. They are at their most effective when the UK government leads the way, as over these last few years on climate action, as hosts of COP26. As the world around us becomes ever more unstable, and more dangerous, the UK should take the lead in making the case for, and taking practical action to strengthen, a strong rules based international system to address the immense challenges we face, with action on climate change in the forefront.”

Wangari Muchiri, Africa Director, Global Wind Energy Council and a renewable energy engineer and energy planning expert based in Kenya, said:

“As Africa hosts a UN climate COP for only the fifth time, the spotlight is now on the young, entrepreneurial and growing nations of Africa, and on what they need for that growth to be clean, sustainable, and good for economic development. As Kenya’s new President made clear a few weeks ago, at the heart of that is the clean technology to enable Africans to leapfrog dirty fossil fuel technologies and go straight to renewables, like wind and solar. So right now, support for developing and growing nations in Africa means investment in industries and technologies where the UK already excels and can partner with the rapidly expanding collection of young African entrepreneurs. That means jobs, growth and economic benefits for all parties. In short – it’s good business.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Sir Laurie Bristow KCMG is former UK Ambassador to Russia, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, now President of Hughes College Cambridge.
  1. Camilla Toulmin is former Director of International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), now Senior Associate, Climate Change; an economist with particular expertise in dryland Africa.
  1. Wangari Muchiri is Africa Director, Global Wind Energy Council and a renewable energy engineer and energy planning expert, based in Kenya, currently working as a programme development manager with considerable experience consulting internationally on renewables across East Africa and Oceania.

For more information:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, email:

Gareth Redmond-King, International Lead, ECIU, email:, Tel: 07971 009 558