Bamako/Moscow/Washington: – The government of Mali in Africa has signalled deployment of mercenaries from Russian Company, Wagner. The United States and European countries have objected to Mali’s decision. But Mali has backed the decision to seek help from the Russian company. While other countries, including France, are withdrawing their military deployments from Mali. Besides, the government of Mali has questioned whether Mali has the right to use Plan B.
France has deployed 5,000 troops in the Sahel region, including Mali. An independent operation called ‘Operation Barkhane’ was also launched along with the African countries. However, the campaign, which has been going on since 2013, has not yet achieved the expected success. At the same time, the African Union and the United States are carrying out a counter-terrorism campaign in Somalia. But despite drone strikes and major operations, terrorist organisations are becoming stronger. Against this background, France and the United States decided to reduce their military deployments in the region.
This is the background for the negotiations between Mali and a Russian private company. ‘Partner countries have decided to leave certain regions. They may even withdraw from other parts. Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga has asked the direct questions ‘What are we supposed to do in this scenario? Don’t we have the right to implement Plan B?’ In a speech at the United Nations, Prime Minister Maiga said that France made a unilateral decision to leave Mali by reducing its deployment and did not even discuss it with us.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has confirmed that Mali is in talks with the Russian company. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said ‘The Mali government has begun negotiations with private Russian companies. Negotiations are underway on a legal basis. The Russian government has nothing to do with it. Mali has taken this decision thinking that its security capabilities will be inadequate without proper external assistance.’.
But a possible deal between Mali and Wagner was taken cognisance by the European countries, including the United States and France. ‘We are concerned about any negative impact in African countries. The use of outside forces for security will not be conducive to progress and stability.’ US officials have warned. French Defence Minister Florence Parly also expressed concern over the talks between Mali and the Russian company. Germany has warned that it will reconsider its deployments in Mali. EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell also warned that the Russian company’s support would not suit relations between Mali and the European Union.
Although the Wagner Group is a private Russian military company, it is claimed to have ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is said Putin has used this company to increase Russian influence. In the last few years, the company has begun to expand its area of operations rapidly. The Russian company has deployed troops in about ten countries in Africa, followed by Ukraine, Syria and Libya. These include Mozambique, Sudan, and the Central African Republic.