Mali denies any deployment of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group

Mali denied any deployment of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group on Friday, December 24. The arrival of the Russians was announced and denounced on Thursday by about fifteen Western powers involved in the anti-jihadist fight in this Sahelian country. The Malian government « Brings a formal denial to these allegations » regarding « An alleged deployment of elements of a private security company », in a statement released Friday evening.

bamako « Requires evidence to be brought to it by independent sources » and « Would like to point out that, in the same way as 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 ”.

Malian authorities ask « 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 », in this press release signed by the government spokesperson, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, also Minister of Territorial Administration.

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On Thursday, several Western countries, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada, had « Strongly condemned the deployment of mercenaries on Malian territory » and denounced « The involvement of the government of the Russian Federation in providing material support for the deployment of the Wagner Group in Mali ». « We call on Russia to behave responsibly and constructively in the region », had insisted these countries in their communiqué also signed by Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden. The latter are engaged alongside France in the new European grouping of special forces Takuba, intended to accompany Malian soldiers in combat.

« Foreign mercenaries »

The deployment of these Russian mercenaries, involved in a number of theaters of operations, including Ukraine, Syria, Libya and several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, has so far been a red line for Paris. The fifteen countries that signed the communiqué had, however, reaffirmed their « Determination to continue [leur] action to protect civilians, support the fight against terrorism in the Sahel and help build long-term stability ”.

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Western concerns mainly concern « Military type installations allowing the reception of a significant number of mercenaries », according to government sources. Means deployed « Urgently », « at Bamako airport », added these sources. « The whole of this operation was the subject of air transfers involving means of the Russian armed forces and was supervised locally by operators of the Wagner Group », they stressed.

« Today we can see, on site, rotations (…) military transport planes belonging to the Russian army, installations at Bamako airport allowing the reception of a significant number of mercenaries, frequent visits of Wagner executives in Bamako and the activities of Russian geologists known for their proximity to Wagner « , they also reported.

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

Since 2012, Mali has been the theater of operations by jihadist movements linked to Al-Qaida and the Islamic State organization, as well as of violence perpetrated by « Self-defense militias » and bandits. The regular forces are themselves accused of abuses. Despite the deployment of UN, French and African forces, the violence that began in the North in 2012 spread to the center, then to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, killing thousands of civilians and soldiers, and forcing the displacement of people. hundreds of thousands of people. The seizure of power in Bamako by the military following a putsch in 2020 has not stopped the spiral of violence.

The World with AFP

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