Mali denies any deployment of Russian mercenaries



Mali has denied any deployment of mercenaries from the sulphurous Russian paramilitary group Wagner, announced by some fifteen Western powers involved in the anti-jihadist fight in this Sahelian country. The government of Mali “Brings a formal denial to these baseless allegations” on “An alleged deployment of elements of a private security company in Mali”, he said in a statement released Friday evening.

About fifteen Western powers announced in a statement on Thursday the deployment in Mali, with the help of Moscow, of the Wagner group, denouncing the involvement of these Russian mercenaries who are already operating in Ukraine, Syria, Libya and in several countries. from sub-Saharan Africa.

Mali: The imminent arrival of Wagner’s Russian mercenaries condemned by France and its partners

Malian government asks for “proof”

The Malian government “Requires evidence to be brought to it by independent sources” of the presence of this group, affirms the press release signed by the government spokesperson, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, also Minister of Territorial Administration. He “Would like to point out that, like the European training mission (EUTM), Russian trainers are present in Mali as part of the strengthening of the operational capacities of the National Defense and Security Forces”.

Bamako asks “To be judged on acts rather than on rumors and wishes to recall that the Malian state is only engaged in a state-to-state partnership with the Russian Federation, its historical partner”, says the press release.

→ INVESTIGATION. Wagner, Russian mercenaries in the service of Putin

“We call on Russia to behave responsibly and constructively in the region”, insisted the press release of Thursday, December 23, also signed by Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden. These countries are engaged alongside France in the new European grouping of special forces Takuba, intended to accompany Malian soldiers in combat.

Don’t cross the red line

The deployment of Russian mercenaries has so far been a red line for Paris. The 15 signatory countries of the press release, however, reaffirmed their “Determination to continue (their) action to protect civilians, to support the fight against terrorism in the Sahel and to help establish long-term stability”.

“Today, we can see repeated air rotations on site with military transport planes belonging to the Russian army, installations at Bamako airport allowing the reception of a significant number of mercenaries, frequent visits by executives. of Wagner in Bamako and the activities of Russian geologists known for their proximity to Wagner ”, indicated a French government source.

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The United States’ warning

On Wednesday 22 December, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already warned Mali against financial consequences and destabilization of the country, already in the throes of violence, if the government recruited the Wagner group. The United States, followed by the European Union, imposed sanctions against this group suspected of being close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mali has been the scene since 2012 of operations by jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, as well as violence perpetrated by “Self-defense militias” and bandits. The regular forces are themselves accused of abuses. The violence that started in the north in 2012 spread to the center, then to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. They killed thousands of civilians and soldiers as well as hundreds of thousands of displaced people, despite the deployment of UN, French and African forces. The seizure of power in Bamako by the military following a putsch in 2020 has not stopped the spiral of violence.

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