US military officials have strongly warned Mali’s interim government not to make any deal to use mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group in its efforts to restore security and counter terrorism in the country.
For weeks, the US and French governments have been openly trying to convince the Malian leadership not to go ahead with the deal made between them and the Wagner group, under which the Malian government would pay the army group $10.8 million per month to deploy 1,000 troops. a fee that will train the Malian military, and provide security for senior officials.
The Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense, said the deal would have a detrimental effect on Mali in a number of ways.
“Given the track record of the Wagner group, if this report were to be true, any role for Russian mercenaries in Mali would make an already unstable and vulnerable situation even worse,” Defense Department spokeswoman Cindi King told reporters. FLY.
King also warned a deal between Mali and the Wagner Group “would cloud the international response in support of a transitional government.”
America has been providing training and other support to Mali as it faces threats from various terrorist groups, including ISIS affiliates, such as IS-Sahara, and al-Qaeda affiliate Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin.
But that support was discontinued following the August 2020 coup in which elements of the Malian military ousted the country’s elected leader.
France recently announced in June it would repatriate some 2,000 counterterrorism troops stationed in Mali and its neighbors.
Mali’s interim government has so far denied any agreement with the Wagner Group, but the country’s prime minister told FLY last week that the actions of America, France and other countries had left the interim administration with little choice. (jm / em)