Lavrov Says Mali Asked Private Russian Military Firm For Help.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the military junta in Mali has turned to "private Russian companies" for help in its fight against Islamist insurgents in the Western African country.
"This is activity which has been carried out on a legitimate basis," Lavrov said during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 25. "We have nothing to do with that." The move comes despite warnings to Mali's military junta by the European Union, France, and Germany against hiring the Russian private security firm Vagner to fight against Islamic militants. Vagner is believed to be controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although private military companies are illegal in Russia, observers say Vagner has in recent years played an increasingly important role in buttressing the Kremlin's ambitions abroad.

The group has been active for several years in combat operations in different countries -- including in Syria, Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Syria.
The group’s presence in Africa has been growing in recent years as the Kremlin seeks to expand its international influence amid a global retrenchment by Washington, analysts say. Mali slid into political turmoil last year, culminating in a military coup in August 2020 against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. After overthrowing Keita, under the threat of sanctions, the military junta appointed an interim civilian government that was tasked with steering the country back to democratic rule by holding elections in February 2022. But army strongman Colonel Assimi Goita overthrew that government in May and was later declared interim president. Although Goita has pledged to respect the February 2022 deadline for civilian elections, observers say the likelihood of the vote taking place on schedule is increasingly in doubt. French Defense Minister Florence Parly told reporters on September 20 after meeting in Mali with Defense Minister Colonel Sadio Camarag that hiring Vagner to fight Islamic militants would lead the country to "isolation." But with Paris planning to reduce its troop numbers across the region by early 2022, the military junta has accused France of "abandonment."

It has said "everything had to be considered to secure the country."
Germany has also warned that it will reconsider its deployments in Mali should the government strike a deal with Vagner. The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also warned earlier this week that the EU's ties with Mali could be seriously affected if it allows Russian private military contractors like Vagner to operate there.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, RIA news, and Interfax

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

Related news

Russia hopes for a U-turn in the EU’s energy policy.

The current situation in the European market is unprecedented. Both natural gas and electricity prices have soared dramatically to levels never been seen before—almost ten-fold higher for natural gas (Finance.yahoo.com) or three- to four-fold high...

Euromaidan Press

Hundreds Of Inmates Riot In North Ossetia Prison

Hundreds Of Inmates Riot In North Ossetia Prison

Reports from Russia say several hundred inmates have rioted in a prison in the southern region of North Ossetia. The October 15 riot by up to 600 inmates broke out at Correctional Colony No. 1 in the regional capital, Vladikavkaz. In an interview ...

Radio Free Europe

Russia Labels Two More Media Entities 'Foreign Agents'.

Russia Labels Two More Media Entities 'Foreign Agents'.

The Russian authorities have designated the legal entities of two media outlets – the Rosbalt news agency and the website Republic.ru -- as "foreign agents" amid an intensifying crackdown on the media and civil society across the country.

Radio Free Europe

Breaking: Ofsted call for urgent action at children's prison.

Breaking: Ofsted call for urgent action at children's prison.

The Ofsted chief has told Justice Secretary Dominic Raab that urgent action must be taken over conditions at Oakhill Secure Training Centre. SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twitter: Like us on Facebook: Follow us on ...

1 13

Portland struggles as crime surges: 'The city is at a breaking point'.

Portland struggles as crime surges: 'The city is at a breaking point'.

Kristen Murray, a restaurant owner in Portland, says she doesn't want to give up on the city but increasing crime rates have brought business owners to a breaking point. Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live...

1 723

Drone drops food for dogs trapped by volcano

Drone drops food for dogs trapped by volcano

The local government of La Palma released a video on Tuesday of dogs trapped by lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano. Drones were deployed to send food to them. Since October 8, two drone companies have been cooperating with local authorities to hel...

LIVE: Latest news, breaking stories and analysis on October 14 - CBSN.

LIVE: Latest news, breaking stories and analysis on October 14 - CBSN.

An FDA panel is set to vote on whether to recommend emergency use authorization of a Moderna COVID-19 booster shot, President Biden’s Supreme Court commission is expected to release a preliminary report on its findings and the House select committ...

J.D. Vance: Attorney General Garland should resign over this

J.D. Vance: Attorney General Garland should resign over this

The Ohio Senate candidate and author discusses the DOJ tapping the FBI to probe threats against school staff and how he plans to run his campaign. Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC...

Retirees at Virginia Senior Homes Help Immigrant Staff Gain US Citizenship.

Retirees at Virginia Senior Homes Help Immigrant Staff Gain US Citizenship.

The immigrant workers at the Goodwin House retirement homes in Northern Virginia come from 68 different countries. When residents learned that the $725 fee to file for citizenship was a deterrent for many staff, they decided to help the immigrant ...