According to various reports, members of Russia’s notorious Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) have been transported to Mali to render assistance to the local interim government (Rosbalt.ru, September 27). Given the presence of Russian mercenaries in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (Ifri.org, September 11, 2020), this news alarmed the Western community, particularly France. Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s minister for Europe and foreign affairs, warned his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that Russia would face “serious consequences” if Wagner were deployed to Mali (Interfax.ru, September 24). On his part, Lavrov, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, claimed it was the government of Mali that turned to a “Russian Private Military Company” while simultaneously blaming France for its failure to fulfill its peace-building regional commitments (Interfax.ru, September 25). In the meantime, local authorities denied reports about Russian mercenaries’ presence in the country, calling them “disinformation.” The official representative of France’s General Staff also noted that the French troops deployed in the Sahel G5 region “did not locate any traces of the Wagner Group in Mali” (Rosbalt.ru, October 8). Irrespective, Russia and Mali are clearly expanding their military-technical cooperation: on October 1, the first batch of Russian helicopters, along with arms and weaponry, were sent to Mali (Ria.ru, October 1).
Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga has told the Russian media he has evidence that France has been training “terrorist” groups operating in the West African country.
Maiga said French troops had created an enclave in Kidal, a town in the desert region of northern Mali, and handed it over to a “terrorist group” known as Ansar al-Din, allegedly linked to al-Qaeda. He said the Malian military was banned from entering the territory.
Mali has summoned France’s ambassador to the country to register its “indignation” at French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent criticism of the country’s government, which is dominated by army figures.
Tensions between France and its former colony Mali have been high since it emerged that the Sahel state is in talks with Russian mercenaries.
António Guterres expressed his deep condolences to the family of the victim, as well as the Government and people of Egypt, wishing a speedy recovery to the injured peacekeepers serving with the UN Stabilization Mission for Mali (MINUSMA).
UN peacekeepers stand guard in the northern town of Kouroume, Mali [File: Adama Diarra/Reuters]
A peacekeeper has died and four others seriously injured in Mali’s volatile north, near the Algerian border when an improvised explosive device went off, the United Nations said.
“One dead and three seriously injured after one of our teams hit an improvised explosive device near Tessalit,” close to the Algerian border, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, said on Saturday.
The Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan has triggered strong emotions: anger, disappointment, helplessness. Criticisms have been raining down, not only against the merciless holy warriors themselves, but also against their apparently incompetent opponents, the Afghan government and its military, as well as the US administration and NATO.
A cargo plane has delivered four helicopters, weapons and ammunition from Russia to Mali, according to the military-led authorities in the West African country.
Interim Defence Minister Sadio Camara said late on Thursday Mali had acquired the aircraft in a contract agreed in December 2020 to support its armed forces in their battle – alongside French, European and United Nations troops – with fighters linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.