French Defence Minister Florence Parly has warned Mali against an alleged deal with Russian mercenaries.
This comes amid rumors that the country’s military government is close to hiring 1,000 mercenaries.
These are, of course, from MSM favorite mythical Wagner PMC.
Two anonymous French sources told the AFP news agency that the Malian government was nearing a deal with the controversial Russian firm, which would underline Moscow’s growing influence in the region.
“If the Malian authorities entered into a contract with Wagner, it would be extremely worrying and contradictory, incoherent with everything that we have done for years and we intend to do to support the countries of the Sahel region,” Parly told a parliamentary commission.
On September 14th, a spokesperson for the Malian defense ministry did not deny the discussions, but didn’t confirm them.
“Mali intends to diversify its relationships in the medium term to ensure the security of the country,” the spokesperson told AFP. “We haven’t signed anything with Wagner, but we are talking with everyone.”
Four unnamed sources told Reuters that “Wagner” would be paid about six billion CFA francs ($10.8m) a month for its services.
The mercenaries’ presence would jeopardise Mali’s funding from the international partners and allied training missions that have helped rebuild Mali’s army.
France suspended military cooperation with Mali in June 2020, and Macron has announced plans to close bases in northern Mali and draw down the presence of French troops in the region.
The arrival of Russian mercenaries in Mali would be a “red line” for Macron, one of the French sources said, adding that Paris could send its troops stationed in the country to neighbouring Niger.
Another anonymous French diplomatic source criticized interventions by the Wagner Group in other countries.
“An intervention by this actor would therefore be incompatible with the efforts carried out by Mali’s Sahelian and international partners engaged in the Coalition for the Sahel for security and development of the region,” the source said.
As relations with France have worsened, Mali’s military government has increased contacts with Russia, including Defence Minister Sadio Camara visiting Moscow and overseeing tank exercises on September 4.
Finally, a yet another anonymous diplomat in the Russian embassy in Mali told AFP that “we are not aware of any contract being signed between Mali and Wagner” and that the embassy had “not been the intermediary”.
“Like France and other countries, we are worried about security in the region,” the diplomat said.
A plethora of reports claimed that Mali would be hiring the mythical Wagner mercenaries, all of them based on anonymous sources, notably Russian ones who even allegedly admit Wagner exists, even though every Russian official who’s ever been asked saying it’s a fairytale
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