The Russian Foreign Minister stated that because of France’s plan to reduce its military presence, Mali turned to Russian private companies operating “on a legal basis.”
The Russian Foreign Minister confirmed that Mali has asked Russian private companies to strengthen security in the conflict-torn country, adding that Moscow is not involved.
“This is an activity carried out on a legal basis,” Sergei Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Saturday. “We have nothing to do with this,” he added.
Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that if the disputed Wagner Group’s Russian private military contractors are allowed to operate in Mali, the EU’s relations with Mali may be severely affected.
According to reports, the Bamako government led by the Malian army is about to hire 1,000 Wagner paramilitary personnel to help it fight armed groups.
France has deployed more than 5,000 soldiers in the Sahel under its Balkan mission, but has pledged to reduce its troops on a large scale. It warned Mali that hiring Wagner fighters would isolate the country internationally.
Western countries accuse Wagner of acting on behalf of Moscow, while denying sending mercenaries abroad.
In recent years, Russian paramilitary organizations, private security instructors and companies have become more and more influential in parts of Africa, especially in the conflict-prone Central African Republic (CAR), where the United Nations has accused Wagner contractors of abusing their power.
Moscow admitted that it had deployed “instructors” to the Central African Republic, but stated that they were not actively involved in the fighting. Although the West claims to the contrary, Russia insists that there are no paramilitary organizations in Libya.
Lavrov stated in a separate comment on Afghanistan that international recognition of the Taliban has not yet been considered
The organization that came to power last month nominated a UN special envoy to start a showdown on Afghanistan’s seat in the world agency.
Lavrov told reporters: “At present, the issue of international recognition of the Taliban is not yet on the table.”